Saving Winter

We must face the music. Climate Derangement Syndrome™ is now the official mass psychosis of the twenty-first century.

We know this because the world's largest automaker, Toyota, is running a TV spot during the Pyeongchang Winter Games showing ice sculptures crying in the sun (see the video clip above); because "winter-white animals" are reportedly "under threat from global warming;" and because the New York Times is running op-eds on the dire need to save winter. Indeed, whatever one might say about the declining popularity of the Winter Olympics as a proxy for geopolitics, it has become indispensable to the media-relations arm of the IPCC climate consensus. Four years ago, during the Sochi Games, the Times ran a piece called "The End of Snow" that drew upon the same University of Waterloo prognostications as this week's jeremiad. "Nothing besides a national policy shift on how we create and consume energy will keep our mountains white in the winter—and slow global warming to a safe level," we were told. "This is no longer a scientific debate. It is scientific fact." Such certitude has been a defining feature of global-warming politics since University of East Anglia researcher Dr. David Viner told us in 2000 that "children just aren’t going to know what snow is." We can look forward to hearing it all again when Beijing hosts the Winter Olympics in 2022.

Non-scientists are in no position to quibble with the science of climate change, of course. As we are reminded practically daily, that would be amateurish, reckless, and likely to attract litigation. But there's nothing stopping ordinary citizens from looking out the window, or even venturing outdoors. We can bear witness to 2018's record-setting cold temperatures across the northern hemisphere, from Miami to Moscow, and to snowfalls so voluminous that city snowbanks look like "mountain ranges." We can even endeavor—albeit in an altogether unscientific and amateurish fashion—to make sense of reports that "temperatures have dipped so low in Pyeongchang, South Korea, that the Winter Games are experiencing all sorts of trouble. Delayed events, warped skis and hypothermia among spectators are just a few issues the frigid weather has caused."

But it matters little, for we have been conditioned over three decades to distrust our own faculties. And as Toyota's slick Olympic ad demonstrates so poignantly (courtesy of the multinational ad agency Saatchi and Saatchi), when it comes to climate prophecy, we have lost the capacity for incredulity. Like all mass psychoses, Climate Derangement Syndrome is characterized by the anxiety of knowing that what we see plainly before us cannot be true.

"I absolutely despair for the integrity of academic climate science," Georgia Tech professor emeritus Judith Curry wrote this week. She's right to worry, and she's not alone.