Monday, January 6, 2014

Cold weather snap fuels misinformation over climate change

Peter Moskowitz in Al Jazeera America: Meteorologists predict record-low temperatures for large swaths of the United States on Sunday and Monday. The cold snap, which comes after snow blanketed much of the northeastern United States last week, has also led to confusion surrounding how weather relates to global warming.

Since the winter weather began, some Americans have taken to blogs, television stations and comment threads, asking (often rhetorically) how the weather can be so cold if the world is supposed to be getting warmer.

...But those who think cold weather disproves climate change may be ignoring a solid and ever-increasing body of evidence. Cold weather is just that -- weather, which is defined by NASA as “conditions of the atmosphere...over a short period of time.”

According to most climate scientists, no weather condition can be linked to climate change. Just as the cold snap can’t necessarily be linked to climate by itself, neither can the unprecedented heat wave currently hitting Australia. (It’s so hot, meteorologists have been forced to add new colors to their heat maps.)

...Scientists warn that as every country in the world starts to grapple with the effects of climate change, the current confusion surrounding the science could have dire consequences. As world leaders attempt to craft climate policy, experts say, it’s important everyone be on the same page, or else the confusion could cause gridlock, and humans could continue to warm the globe at record levels....

Finnish soldiers during the Winter War, 1939-1940, shot by Finnish Army personnel

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