- - Sunday, November 23, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Pity the plight of upstate New Yorkers, buried under six feet of snow. The folks who dwell in the lee of the Great Lakes are accustomed to deep drifts of white magic in winter, but a winter wonderland doesn’t look so magical when the solstice is still a month away. November is not supposed to behave like January. Some of the global warming “experts” attribute the cause of the early snow to “global warming.”

The fanciful explanation goes like this: Warming global temperatures are heating the waters of Lake Erie, preventing the formation of ice. Open water produces increased rates of evaporation and greater cloud formation. Since what goes up must come down, moisture-laden clouds and frigid air flowing south from the North Pole have teamed up to dump snow measured with yardsticks on nearby Buffalo.

“The cold air came down from Canada so early in the year, so the Great Lakes were still so warm so now in November is when we’re getting all these really heavy lake-effect snows from this storm,” Thomas C. Peterson, a principal scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center, tells the International Business Times.

Hence, global warming produces snow. By that reasoning, New Yorkers with backs sore from shoveling their driveways should pray for colder weather. As the website Climate Depot points out, however, global temperatures have not warmed over the past two decades,. The winter ice cover on the Great Lakes varies from year to year, but last winter’s “polar vortex” resulted in the broadest expanse of ice in 20 years. Satellite photographs of the Great Lakes resembled a skater’s paradise.

While weather doesn’t equate with climate, the recent prevalence of frigid winters may be one reason why the Gallup Poll earlier this year reveals that Americans place global warming dead last among a list of eight environmental problems they worry about. They’re content to leave the fretting to the expert with a Ph.D in fretting.

Upstate New Yorkers trying to ward off the shivers suffer some of the nation’s highest prices of electricity — 16.3 cents per kilowatt-hour — despite the fact that reservoirs of affordable natural gas lie untapped beneath the snow. The powers that be are afraid of global warming, or rather, they’re afraid of the fear of global warming, which might arrive any decade now. Heating of the planet, though missing in action these past two decades, is said to be caused by humans breathing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This could be caused by marathons. Jogging and running means heavy breathing, which means more carbon dioxide.

Tapping these natural gas reservoirs deep beneath the snow is called hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” and some politicians say it contributes to the scourge of global warming, though it hasn’t been scourging lately. Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York has banned fracking while he studies it some more. Caught between a rock and the green lobby, the governor has repeatedly put off an executive decision on whether to lift the ban or make it permanent. He has taken this page from President Obama’s playbook on handling the Keystone XL pipeline: Delay, delay, and delay some more. All the while the snow drifts deeper above the state’s affordable energy reserves.

In nearby Pennsylvania, where fracking is allowed, electricity is 40 percent less expensive than in New York, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The White House in May credited the drilling technique with creating 133,000 jobs in Pennsylvania.

Pittsburghers are not in the target zone for lake-effect snow, but if they feel compelled to pray for colder weather out of sympathy for their globally warmed, shivering neighbors to the north, they can afford to keep the thermostat in their homes at a toasty temperature.


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