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Hotter Planet, More Snowstorms?

Sometime this summer, the Senate will have a debate over an energy bill. What kind of energy bill? That's still the unanswered question. But the timing, at least, is propitious: After all, 2010 is shaping up to be the hottest year on record, and the summer months should be particularly unpleasant. And studies have shown that people are, predictably, far more receptive to talking about global warming during the sweltering heat than during the winter months. Weather isn't the same as climate, obviously, but these two things get confused all the time.

And speaking of which, here's a new twist on that whole linkage, via Tom Laskawy. At a recent conference in Oslo, NOAA scientist James Overland explained that the "warmer Arctic climate is influencing the air pressure at the North Pole and shifting wind patterns on our planet." That means "we can expect more cold and snowy winters in Europe, eastern Asia, and eastern North America." Basically, this covers all the places on the globe where big decisions on energy and climate will get made. And you can imagine how hard it'll be to craft sensible policy when snowstorms are becoming increasingly common in these areas.