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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Inauguration day and climate change politics

Inauguration day 2005: 35 °F Mostly cloudy with some sunny breaks.
Northwest wind 14 mph. Around 1″ of snow lay on the ground.
More inauguration day weather history is available here

There is much speculation about the weather on Tuesday, January 20th, which is the inauguration day of president Obama. Particularly it is being conjectured widely on the blogosphere that a colder than normal day might have some chilling effect on climate change thinking in Washington. After all, it is not unlike politicians to grasp onto ancillary topics and use them as the focal point for forming opinions.

For example, as reported here, The last time Dr. Roy Spencer testified before Congress, committee chair Barbara Boxer appeared more interested in discussing Rush Limbaugh than she did in discussing science. That is not necessarily a sensible way to weigh trillion dollar policy decisions.

Here is another example. When Dr. James Hansen testified before Congress in June, 1988, on the topic of global warming, Senator Timothy Wirth took several deliberate steps to make sure that the room was oppressively hot. This excerpt below is from a PBS Frontline interview:

TIMOTHY WIRTH: We called the Weather Bureau and found out what historically was the hottest day of the summer. Well, it was June 6th or June 9th or whatever it was. So we scheduled the hearing that day, and bingo, it was the hottest day on record in Washington, or close to it.DEBORAH AMOS: [on camera] Did you also alter the temperature in the hearing room that day? TIMOTHY WIRTH: What we did is that we went in the night before and opened all the windows, I will admit, right, so that the air conditioning wasn’t working inside the room. And so when the- when the hearing occurred, there was not only bliss, which is television cameras and double figures, but it was really hot.

That is going to be a lot tougher now, after two more decades of unprecedented global warming.

As of Saturday morning, NCEP is forecasting severe cold along the East Coast for the end of the month, and well below normal temperatures for the inauguration of president Obama. Perhaps the chill will freeze out some the early political rhetoric in Washington? Some prominent members of Congress now claim that they can legislate the climate, which requires that they also are able to control volcanoes, ocean circulation patterns, and solar activity.

Here is the NCEP CONUS temperature forecast for now to election day:

Click for a larger image

One wonders though, it the weather patterns were shifted west to east in the anomaly graph below, and we had a warmer than normal inauguration day in Washington, would it provide lawmakers with a personal confirmation bias much like that day in June, 1988?

Thanks to wattsupwiththat

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