The result was striking: "For each 3.1 ° Fahrenheit that local temperatures in the past week have risen above normal, Americans become one percentage point more likely to agree that there is 'solid evidence' that the earth is getting warmer," the study found. And vice-versa: Cold weather anomalies were associated with decreased belief in global warming.Which brings up a big, fat ethical question about the goose, the gander, and the ends versus means. Go below the fold and weigh in.
In all fairness, the money is very good. Giving really rich, really powerful people the answer they want to hear, especially when it's the wrong answer, is a time-honored, lucrative trade stretching back to the dawn of written history. That's how you end up with highly educated lawmakers earnestly stating that cutting jobless benefits is actually good for the unemployed, or claiming ketchup is a vegetable. Make the check big enough and flocks of less than scrupulous ER docs will beat a path to the palace doors with one hand on a Bible and the other in the air ready to swear under oath that decapitation isn't fatal. If there's a wealthier industry on Earth right now than extracting and distributing fossil fuels, I don't know what it is. There's always been a ready supply of people, some desperate and others simply greedy, willing to lie their asses off for just a shot at the kind of money we're talking about here.
If trolls will be trolls for fun and profit, and snow trolling has the added benefit of working, and if we further infer that heat trolling would likewise work for similar reasons, would it be unethical to respond in kind to the snowy variety the next time the upper Midwest or Northeast swelters under record triple digit temperatures? Let us compare and contrast the issue.
Note that there is no evidence for recent global cooling right now; therefore using a winter storm to promote the idea of cooling is at best erroneous, if not downright dishonest. But there is sure as hell evidence for global warming over the last several decades, so using a heat wave to hammer that point home is at least slightly less revolting. Since the global temperature record shows an undeniable, measurable increase over the last century, and since a ferocious heat wave over a large region is a legit datum in that very record, is it even fair to call it heat trolling?
Another consideration: it's not as if snow trolls will play fair if we do. They're going to troll their little snowy brains out regardless. If one side advances the wrong side of an argument using an effective tactic, and the other side does not follow suit promoting the accurate view, guess which side has the advantage on an issue where the consequences of inaction might include billions dying in a man-made extinction event or global resources wars?
Then again, even with all the justifications and more, a sense of conflict is understandable. It just doesn't feel quite right, even if using consistent ethics and avoiding hypocrisy hands us a big disadvantage in the PR wars. But if it's done in a scientifically defensible manner, in much the same way we might use a big meteor strike to argue for funding to detect much larger potential impacts or the common outbreak of a winter cold to make a case for preparing for a bird flu pandemic, that would make sense in my opinion. But that's just my view, there's a poll and a comment section below for your thoughts. Let the games begin!