By Governor Christine Todd Whitman
February 11, 2010
It shouldn’t, but it will. Among the reasons winter storms will make this issue more politically challenging are overreach and simplification — on both sides of the debate. “An Inconvenient Truth” brought the issue of climate change to the fore, but many of the charts implying that the world’s end is near were overly dramatic.
Calling what is happening simply “global warming” is misleading. There will be many changes along the way, including periods of colder temperatures. Some of this semantic debate is important. Using the term “climate change” rather than “global warming” prevents people such as Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) from being able to claim that this is all a hoax.
It is also overreach to imply that humans are the sole cause of climate change. Our activities are exacerbating natural phenomena, making us part of the problem, but the earth and its climate have been changing since its formation. Because of human activity, things are changing faster than nature or humans can adapt, and the sooner we take steps to slow changes, the better off we will be.
Scientists have long predicted that one consequence of climate change will be more frequent and more severe storms. They can’t predict where and when storms will occur, but their extreme magnitude reflects climate change. Yet let’s not forget, even as we dig out from the blizzard, that 10 of the past 11 years were the warmest on record.