Global Warming: Global Warning

Remember the movie The Day After Tomorrow? When the media interviewed the Director/Producer of that movie, he claims that it should be shown immediately as it will become more of a documentary rather than a movie.

The Atlanta governor has declared a state of emergency for 89 counties as a wave of “crippling ice” befalls much of The Peach State in a storm the National Weather Service warns, “may be of historic proportions.” This statewide IcePocalypseMageddon occurs a little more than a week after Georgia’s last devastating ice storm, when the National Guard was called in to aid thousands of people stranded in their homes, vehicles, and schools. The polar vortex dropped temperatures from Chicago to Mexico a few weeks prior, breaking more than 50 records and leaving Minneapolis with sub-zero temperatures for 62 straight hours.

That U.S. weather patterns seem more at home in the Book of Revelation than February hasn’t made an impact on Senator Ted Cruz, who joked to attendees of the Conservative Policy Summit about the nip in the air: “Al Gore told me this wouldn’t happen.” This sentiment has been echoed across social media by climate-change skeptics:

The “If global warming is real, then why is it cold out?” line of argument has been around since the early days of the climate change debate, but the positively Hoth-esque temperatures have increased the volume of those hoping to undercut the “inconvenient truth” of anthropogenic global warming. So, does the recent spate of cold snaps prove Al Gore a filthy, PowerPoint-loving, Oscar-winning liar?

Most obviously, climate is different than weather—that’s why the Midwest and Northeast have faced three snowstorms in the past two weeks while the drought in California has been so severe that water deliveries from reservoirs to the Central Valley have been cut to zero. Climate trends are exactly that: trends. One swallow doesn’t make a summer, and one blisteringly cold month doesn’t prove 97 percent of climate scientists wrong.

Another key component of “global warming” is right there in the name: “global.” North America was colder than average in December 2013, but Russia and most of Europe were far hotter. Despite what Ted Cruz thinks, the world extends beyond the continental United States, and most of it has been crazy hot. For every cold snap in the U.S., there’s a wildfire in Australia so intense that it creates its own weather.

Yes it’s pretty obvious that it’s really cold outside but, it’s not nearly as cold as it was generations ago. Between 1780 and 1888, the East River froze at least a dozen times. In fact, after a particularly hard winter in 1866-1867, frustration with halted ferry service eventually led to the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge. As webcomic xkcd noted, St. Louis, once the frozen home to a handful of sub-zero temperatures every year, hasn’t had a day that cold since the 1990s. Not to mention all those bizarre videos on Youtube that boiling water became ice instantaneously after having contact with air.

The global trend is clear: Since 1899, the average global surface temperature has risen roughly three-quarters of a degree Celsius. However, year-to-year variation is another set of data altogether. Rises in global temperature aren’t linear. Average global temperatures rise sharply in some years; other years, they fall or stay the same (some of this can be attributed to El NiƱo weather anomalies). Volcanic eruptions, solar flares, and yes, polar vortexes can all affect surface temperature.

Hard scientific proof hasn’t been able to melt the resolve of skeptics, however. According to the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, the percentage of Americans who believe global warming is happening has dropped seven points, a number that’s bound to go up after this latest deep freeze: The results were “likely influenced by the relatively cold winter of 2012-13 in the United States and an unusually cold March just before the survey was conducted.” The number of Americans who refuse to believe in climate change’s existence at all is a relatively small, fortunately around 16 percent.

You can even observe your own surroundings wherever you are! Super typhoons, volcanic eruption, flash floods, extreme heat, longer and cooler mornings, earthquakes, tsunamis, you can even witness a steam devil.

Well, for whatever cost, prayers will still be our best weapon…


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