When I began writing Don’t Sell Your Coat, in 2009, the predictions by solar physicists and a few other maverick scientists that I was drawing on for the book that the planet was in for a period of mild cooling seemed absurd to virtually everyone I knew. Some told me so to my face. Some rolled their eyes. My family’s visiting veterinarian chose to tell me during our dog’s last few days of life that I was “whack.” How could he think otherwise, after listening each day as he did to literally thousands of dulcet-toned NPR stories announcing the catastrophic warming of the ocean-atmosphere system and the horrific side effects such warming was producing?
Well, this was all OK, I reckoned – winters during the previous couple of years, 2009-2010 and 2010-2011, in the United States, Europe, Asia, and elsewhere had shown some pretty decent muscularity, basically duplicating the winters from a lot of people’s childhoods. The “end of snow” called for in the United Kingdom had become a point of particular hilarity among climate skeptics as the coldest, snowiest winter in more than 100 years had beset the island nation, leaving it frosted from top to bottom with a thick coating of white.
So, fast-forward to December 2011, when Don’t Sell Your Coat comes out. In the United States, where I live and planned to sell most of the copies of my book that I would sell, I was all ready for a good winter to keep people wondering if perhaps the narrative constructed on NPR needed some editing. I was ready for a good winter, personally, after working outdoors in Austin, Texas, during the summers of 2010 and 2011, both of which left me feeling a little tuckered out, actually. My wife and daughters and I had moved back to Rhode Island, and it was time to enjoy a good, old-fashioned New England winter, sledding up a storm and throwing hundreds of snowballs, and then watch my fellow-citizens come to see that there might be something to this global cooling business, after all, while watching the sales on the book sky-rocket.
Or something like that.
And then the winter that is just winding down happened: long periods of above-average temperatures combined with meager snowfall – basically the kind of winter predicted by global warming theorists for the United States. This hurt on a couple of levels. First, the snow-lover in me is as strong and healthy as ever. True, I have had the privilege of bringing my older daughter to the local sledding hill following three snowfalls, the first time being in October, which is quite unusual. But overall, like other snow lovers in these parts (and around the country), I have had to silently suffer through many days without the precious white stuff, and do my best to take it like a man.
Meanwhile, the principal marketplace for my book was fast becoming an entire nation of folks woefully shaking their head in my direction. The school where I teach was one place where I couldn’t stop hearing comments about the warm winter, some of the comments seeming pointed in the direction of the school’s crazy.
Well, I want to take this opportunity to say that the game is not over yet. The cold, snowy winters of the two years prior to this very likely were precursors of the kind of cooling predicted by the scientists whom I cite in my book. More to the point, though, when it comes to “global” warming, the last few months have been at or below average when it comes to the global mean temperature as measured by satellite. Indeed, as I sit at my desk this morning, listening to the howling west wind outside my window, the global mean temperature is the lowest it has been for ten years, and by quite a measure. As I’ve written elsewhere on this blog, Europe has endured some of the harshest winter conditions it has seen in decades, with thousands trapped in homes literally buried by snow in Romania, a frozen Danube River, unusually plentiful snow along Europe’s Mediterranean coast. The cold stretched across Asia, by the way, and extended to Alaska, which also has had mean-spirited winter to endure. So, again, the main market for my book, and the place where I actually live, has been warm, for the most part. I grant you that.
Is this the result of global warming? Anything but. It is, instead, the result of Pacific air being pulled across the North American continent, literally blocking Arctic air from descending southward and providing me – and my book – with the conditions I would have preferred. Is a west wind pulling Pacific air straight across the U.S. proof of global warming? Ummm, no.
No matter, in the fullness of time, I will most assuredly be shown to have been “whack,” or just a little bit prescient. I know that I am extremely grateful, and pleased, to be on the record quoting individuals of science whom I admire and who question the manmade global warming narrative. Being on the record with a book calling for volcanic dimming of the atmosphere prior to a major explosive eruption for which we are overdo is also a great relief, respecting and dreading the effects of that cooling as I do.