Unless you've been under a rock for the last week, you've been inundated with "coverage" of the recent cold temperatures affecting the eastern United States. Allow me to sum up: "Boy is it cold out there!"
The frustrating part of how these weather events have been portrayed in the mainstream media is the lack of explanation of the underlying causes. Maybe that's because the evening news is just not the appropriate format for explaining the science of extreme weather events. Network coverage tends to be more "Wow! look at this!" Even the local news emphasized that it has been 18 years since it was below zero (Fahrenheit) in Cleveland, suggesting (rather disingenuously, in my opinion) that such cold temperatures are anomalies; and always have been.
So I was pleased to find an elegant and powerful frame on one of my favorite webcomics, XKCD.
This comic from XKCD (by way of Treehugger) puts the recent mediagasm about the polar vortex into its proper context.
If I had more time, I'd run this down for more cities. Unfortunately there are a lot of variations on "Brrr! it's cold here in (fill in the blank)," and only one of me. So let's crowdsource this. The data is there, and free, for anyone to access on the a href='http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cdo-web/search'>NCDC website. Pick out your city, or one you think might be interesting. Maybe Washington DC (yes, I'm looking at you, Inhofe) or the hometown of some other climate change deniers. Maybe I'll give a prize for the city with the longest span since its last below-zero day. This could be fun!
The crowdsourcing of Project Climate Chaos: It's Cold! has another advantage. You can use these anecdotes to people you know, who are familiar with the weather where you (and they) live, and illustrate how climate change has already affected them. And do it without being confrontational.
OK, the TWO advantages of this approach are localizing climate change, its non-confrontational nature, and that it's simple enough for even science-challenged Americans to comprehend. Right. The THREE advantages... oh, let me come in again.
This comic from XKCD...