Winter Storm Warnings

The entire northern hemisphere is enduring a harsh winter. Interstate 90, one of the country’s principal east-west highways, was closed yesterday and today west of Fairmont, Minnesota and into South Dakota. England has been buried under a foot of snow. Tonight, authorities in Germany are bracing for a blizzard “as Europe freezes”:

Europe faced a weekend of weather chaos as Germany braced for a blizzard and authorities warned people to stock up on food and drinking water while Britain and France struggled to cope with heavy snow. Germans were urged to buy enough food and medicines to last for up to four days with 20 centimetres (eight inches) of snowfall forecast to fall overnight Friday.
Britain, suffering its worst winter for three decades, was forced to curb industrial gas usage to save dwindling supplies.
The country prepared for further freezing conditions as forecasters warned that temperatures would drop below minus 20 degrees Celsius (minus four degrees Fahrenheit) overnight. …
Hundreds of flights were scrapped leaving more passengers stranded and the beleaguered Eurostar link between Britain, France and Belgium axed half its services Friday and said the disruption would continue into the weekend. …
Twenty-seven major companies in Britain were ordered to halt using gas Friday in order to maintain overall supplies amid unprecedented levels of demand.

Of course, none of those numbers–four degrees below zero, eight inches of snow–impresses me much. We have a couple of feet of snow on the ground, at least, here in suburban Minneapolis. Tonight my wife and I went to a Minnesota Gopher hockey game. I left directly from work, which meant that I wasn’t really dressed for winter. I parked four blocks away from Mariucci Arena and had semi-serious concerns about frostbite by the time I arrived there. When we left the game, the thermometer on my car measured -7 degrees. It will get considerably colder tonight.
None of which represents anything new. Rather, we’re experiencing winter as usual. The brief warm spell that lasted through most of the 80s and 90s is over. We still aren’t seeing anything like some of the epic winters of the 1970s, when people were cross-country skiing down the streets of downtown Minneapolis and my younger brothers climbed a snow bank onto the roof of our family’s house in South Dakota.
But this year’s return to normalcy, part of a gently cooling trend that has been going on for about a decade, may be of considerable significance. The man in the street can’t critique computer climate simulations, but he can tell when it’s cold outside. The global warming hoax gained plausibility only from the fact that, coincidentally, the 80s and 90s were an era when temperatures were getting a bit warmer. (Temperatures, of course, are always getting either warmer or cooler, so if you want something to worry about, you can always imagine that current trends will persist indefinitely.) So, in the nick of time perhaps, the climate worm has turned.
In the aftermath of the Copenhagen fiasco and the revelations of Climategate, interest in trying to implement some sort of global thermostat through reduction in living standards has dwindled to near zero. The Europeans may pay lip service to the concept, but as usual they won’t be stupid enough to sacrifice their own well-being. And the likelihood of our own Congress passing cap-and-tax, or anything similar, seems remote at this point.
So don’t complain if you have to bundle up this winter. The return to normalcy has come along providentially, to spare you something much worse.