This past week, everyone’s favorite bible citing climate change denier from congress, Sen. Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeGillibrand expects vote on military justice bill in fall The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Goldman Sachs - Biden backs Cuban protesters, assails 'authoritarian regime' Trump getting tougher for Senate GOP to ignore MORE (R-Okla.), proved once and for all (in his mind) that global warming is indeed a hoax cooked up by the liberal media and those elitist climate scientists. In a nice and simple fashion that everyone could understand, he packed up a big snowball from the cold Washington street and brought it in to show the congress how “unseasonable” it was outside, clearly discrediting that whole warming thing.

The media and blogosphere immediately (and rightfully) jumped on this idiotic display of arrogance, but unfortunately, this kind of reasoning is extremely popular around America, not only for climate change, but for science in general.

ADVERTISEMENT

It is this sort of inability to grasp the reality of time that infects so much of America, particularly fundamentalist Christians. There is a similar kind of misconception when it comes to evolution. Some are convinced that evolution is false because they’ve never seen a monkey give birth to a human, or that monkeys are still around. ‘How could we have evolved from monkeys if they still exist?’ they ask, with either an incredible ignorance or an insidious dishonesty.

This sort of reasoning may arise from the belief that the earth was created between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago, which about four in ten American’s believe. If one is convinced that the earth is less than 10,000 years old, than surely evolution, which takes hundreds of thousands of years, is incompatible with their beliefs.

This inability to grasp the true nature of time causes mass confusion in the area of climate change as well, as Inhofe proved with the snowball stunt. This is one of the most uniformed and popular arguments against global warming; that the local weather hasn’t changed much. According to 2014 polls done by the Public Religion Research Institute, about 26 percent of American’s believe there is no solid evidence for global warming, and the most frequently cited reason for this belief was that they have not “noticed any change in the weather around them.” This is where time comes in. Many people simply do not understand the difference between weather and climate, which is a measure of time.

Climate is the long-term pattern of weather over many years or decades in particular areas. So when one is talking about climate, they are talking about the averages of temperature, humidity, precipitation, wind velocity, etc, over the span of many years. Weather, on the other hand, is the short term changes of the atmosphere, meaning minutes to months. We always know that when winter comes around (on the east coast at least), we are in for a very cold few months, because the history of climate tells us. However, whether we will be getting many feet of snow, like previous years, is unsure.

Weather in the short term can be challenging to predict accurately, as many in New York City experienced a couple months ago, when mayor deBlasio nervously shut down streets for “historic” snowfall only to get a few inches. Climate is all about averages. If the weather changes ten degrees from one day to the next, its no big deal, but when the global climate changes a few degrees, it can have far-reaching consequences.

So when Inhofe rolled up that snowball to prove global warming is a myth, he was simply proving what climate averages tell us about Washington DC. According to US Climate Data, the average low temperature for Washington during February is 28 degrees Fahrenheit, which means that, contrary to what Inhofe said, the freezing weather outside was actually quite seasonable.

As human beings, we instinctively look at the world through our senses, but as reasoning and thinking individuals, we understand that our perception is extremely limited in processing reality. However, fundamentalists like Inhofe embrace their senses as the true determinants of reality, and if they cannot see something like evolution or climate change, well, it must be false. This is not how science works. Obviously no one expects Inhofe to suddenly start reasoning like a scientist, but as the chairman of the Senate Environment Committee, one expects him to take the word of scientists seriously and stop deluding the populace with the false notion that weather and climate are one in the same. This petty exhibit of ignorance shows what a national embarrassment Inhofe is, and should give caution to American voters next time they vote for the Republican party.

Lynch is a writer living in New York City.