The central and eastern parts of the United States are currently suffering through one of the coldest winters on record, with the so-called polar vortex returning yet again this week to the Midwest and Northeast. Here are The Onion’s answers to readers’ most common questions about this year’s unusual and bitterly cold winter:
Does the inclement weather have anything to do with global warming?
No one’s looked into it yet.
How many people totally ate it while walking on a slick sidewalk this winter?
Only you, and everyone saw.
This harsh winter has been caused by the North Enchanter holding dominion over the winds of the ether plane. So to defeat him, we just need to summon a hearth witch, right?
Who are you?
I am Professor Snowflake.
What is the best way to deal with this world’s cold?
You just have to keep carrying the flame inside you. No matter how hard it gets to be, you carry that goddamn fire. It’s a hard world. Life is hard. But no matter what, you carry that fire, and you don’t let go.
These are only my favorites. You should read the whole thing.
From the inbox (courtesy of my mother-in-law): This is an excerpt from a Sierra Club email. I do take the source into consideration. But it does sound like your kind of thing.
”The cost of climate change is rising and we all pay the price. Communities rebuild after superstorms and wildfires. Businesses see their fortunes fall as droughts sweep the heartland. Families face rising health care costs for asthma attacks and heart problems caused by runaway pollution.
Fossil fuel billionaires like the Koch brothers will keep hiding the consequences of their pollution unless there's a firm, scientific, and official cost for their carbon pollution -- and that's exactly what the White House's Office of Management and Budget is working on. It's called the social cost of carbon, and it's a measure of how much economic damage is being done to our society by each and every ton of carbon pollution that's pumped into our air. ”
From Matt Kahn (who I think is being subtley snarky on progressives):
One person's challenge is another person's opportunity. To rephrase this point, there is demand and supply. As the cold regions of the country have experienced heavy snowfall, this has created jobs for guys to clean it up and opportunities for guys who sell salt. Progressives should view climate change as creating a Keynesian stimulus. The cost and time it takes to clean up from a shock do represent an adaptation cost but these costs will fall over time due to the magic of capitalism. The money that is spent for the clean up goes to somebody and in a time with great concern about the 99% much of this $ will go for paying for basic labor that can't be supplied by someone in China because the work for the cleanup is here.
Porter Fox (the features editor at Powder magazine):
Officials canceled two Olympic test events last February in Sochi after several days of temperatures above 60 degrees Fahrenheit and a lack of snowfall had left ski trails bare and brown in spots. That situation led the climatologist Daniel Scott, a professor of global change and tourism at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, to analyze potential venues for future Winter Games. His thought was that with a rise in the average global temperature of more than 7 degrees Fahrenheit possible by 2100, there might not be that many snowy regions left in which to hold the Games. He concluded that of the 19 cities that have hosted the Winter Olympics, as few as 10 might be cold enough by midcentury to host them again. By 2100, that number shrinks to 6. ...
The effect on the ski industry has already been significant. Between 1999 and 2010, low snowfall years cost the industry $1 billion and up to 27,000 jobs. Oregon took the biggest hit out West, with 31 percent fewer skier visits during low snow years. Next was Washington at 28 percent, Utah at 14 percent and Colorado at 7.7 percent.
The winter sports industry contributes $66 billion annually to the nation’s economy, and supports more than 960,000 jobs across 38 states, according to the Outdoor Industry Association. A surprisingly large sector of the United States economy appears to be teetering on the brink.
As always, with this sort of change, the effect on GDP and jobs is likely to be negligible as people adapt and find substitute activities. The more significant loss is consumer surplus - the willingness to pay for skiiing over and above the money spent. That is harder to replace.
I have a new piece in the Milken Institute Review that looks at EPA’s current and near-future carbon emissions rules. It starts at the beginning of the story and is aimed at a more-or-less general audience, so if you haven’t been following the issue it’s a good place to start.
"This blog aims to look at more of the microeconomic ideas that can be used toward environmental ends. Bringing to bear a large quantity of external sources and articles, this blog presents a clear vision of what economic environmentalism can be."
... the Environmental Economics blog ... is now the default homepage on my browser (but then again, I guess I am a wonk -- a word I learned on the E.E. blog). That is a very nice service to the profession. -- Anonymous
"... I try and read the blog everyday and have pointed it out to other faculty who have their students read it for class. It is truly one of the best things in the blogosphere." -- Anonymous