The claim by Rick Santorum that "global warming is a hoax" is becoming one of his campaign's bedrock issues. While it is a claim that appeals to his core base of supporters, it is also is likely to lead the majority of moderate and independent voters to question his judgement. About 63 percent of Americans said they believed that global warming is occurring according to polling by the Yale University Project on Climate Change Communication, which tracks Americans' opinions about climate change.
The increasing destructiveness of extreme weather is a major cause of the tilt in the opinion of the majority of Americans to now judging that global warming is occurring. The phrase "weather on steroids" is a succinct way of describing the effect of global climate change on weather events. This use of the phrase seems likely to become increasingly commonplace. There is even a Weather on Steroids website.
Our minds are hard-wired to spot patterns as it helps us make sense of the world. Thus, we often confuse correlation with causation. In the case of extreme weather, at least some of the droughts, flash floods, and record breaking snowfalls of the last few years probably can be attributed to global climate change. It is easy to make a connection between changing weather patterns and the climate and one that some researchers judge to be scientifically valid. Once an individual has made a connection between extreme weather and global climate change, it becomes likely that they will make a connection between every extreme weather event and global warming.
Here are two predictions that are almost certain to come true: 1) there will be extreme weather events between now and the end of the Presidential primary season; and 2) extreme weather events will reinforce the concerns of those that are worried about global warming. Each extreme weather event enhances the likelihood that voters will decide that Rick Santorum is a "wingnut" on the issue of global warming.
New evidence that believers in "global warming is a hoax" have their heads buried in the sand comes out almost every week. In addition to the freaky weather, U.S. scientists using satellite data have found that thinning glaciers and icecaps have been pushing up sea levels by 0.06 inches a year, and that sea levels are rising by about 0.14 inches per year. While a 0.14 inch rise in sea levels in any one year is manageable, if that level of rise is extrapolated out over multiple decades, it become threatening to the millions of inhabitants of low lying areas. Further, if the pace of the melt escalates as some climate researchers predict, the consequences within just a few decades could be devastating.
The "global warming is a hoax" position of Rick Santorum makes him incredibly vulnerable in a general election. As increasing evidence of global climate changes makes it harder to ignore, the majority of Americans' are going to be dismissive of a candidate that takes a "know nothing" position denying its existence. Every extreme weather event will make Santorum appear increasingly foolish, regardless of whether the events are scientifically attributable to global climate change. Each "weather on steroids" occurrence will damage Santorum's credibility with voters.
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