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Few things define a person’s intelligence than the ability to understand complex issues. Few things define a person’s stupidity than to take a complex issue and use a short-circuit of logic to make it sound simple.

Every winter some people prove their lack of intelligence and say something like, “I just shoveled five inches of global warming off my driveway.” This makes other small-minded people giggle, and the speaker feel like he has just proved he is smarter than all the intelligent, educated people.

He is not.

Global Warming and Winter Weather 101
To understand the threat of global warming a person first has to understand the effect of the Earth’s 23.5° tilt of its axis off the solar plane. I just lost 30% of the stupid people.

The Earth’s tilt causes one hemisphere (north or south) to receive more radiant energy than the other in the few months around the solstices. This means that one of the polar regions is receiving external heat from the Sun, and the other is receiving no solar energy because it is in darkness. I’m about to lose another 20% of the stupid people.

The cold air in the polar region would stay exactly where it is if it weren’t for the Laws of Thermal Dynamics. Ah, there they go. Okay, were down to the last 50% of the stupid people.

Among other things, thermal dynamics explain the behavior of the energy exchange between two substances, and Fluid Dynamics help to explain how a difference in temperature in a substance like air causes cooler air to mix with warmer air. I just lost another 25% of the stupid people. It was the ‘fluid dynamics’ thing, wasn’t it?

The greater the difference in temperature, the greater, or more actively, the warmer air will mix with the cooler air. If the last 25% of stupid people can just hang on, I’m almost there.

Because there is more carbon dioxide suspended in our atmosphere, it absorbs more of the solar radiation, and that increases the temperature of the air. That causes more water to vaporize and it also absorbs solar radiation and that further increases the temperature of the air. Damn, I lost another 10%.

During the northern hemisphere’s winter, the north polar region has a lot of cold air that desperately wants to mix with the warm air to the south to equalize the temperature between cold and warm. The greater the temperature difference, the more powerful the movement of the air toward each other. Okay, l just lost another 10%.

I see the blank faces of the last 5% of stupid people. Cold air is cold air. It remains cold as it moves toward the warm air. It is only after it mixes with warmer air (i.e.; storms) that the temperature of the two air masses begin to equalize. Oh, there go the last 5% of the stupid people.

For the rest of us, global warming creates warmer air masses and that can lead to the increased movement between the two air masses resulting in stronger winds and more cold air moving farther south. Also, warmer air can retain more water vapor, so when cold and warm air meet, the storms can result in higher precipitation.