The Story of 2018 Was Climate Change

Future generations may ask why we were distracted by lesser matters.

David Leonhardt

David Leonhardt

Op-Ed columnist, The New York Times

In Lynn Haven, Fla., trees were upended by a hurricane in October.CreditCreditJohnny Milano for The New York Times

Our best hope may be the weather.

For a long time, many people thought that it was a mistake to use the weather as evidence of climate change. Weather patterns contain a lot of randomness. Even as the earth warms and extreme weather becomes more common, some years are colder and calmer than others. If you argue that climate change is causing some weather trend, a climate denier may respond by making grand claims about a recent snowfall.

And yet the weather still has one big advantage over every other argument about the urgency of climate change: We experience the weather. We see it and feel it…