Deniers confuse climate change and weather
Last winter, the Northeastern United States had extremely heavy snowfall. Boston got 110 inches, higher than any previously recorded year. This was a field day for not only kids who wanted snow days, but also climate change skeptics.
Daily weather patterns are often used by skeptics as a way to deny the actual science that supports climate change, and the negative consequences it will cause. Unfortunately, many people do not understand climate change well enough to realize having cold weather does not mean our society is not faced with the harmful impacts of climate change.
An example of one of these people is Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who sent out a tweet in October 2015 to his close to 5 million followers that used the presence of cold weather to undermine the seriousness of the issue of global warming.
“It’s really cold outside, they are calling it a major freeze, weeks ahead of normal,” Trump wrote. “Man, we could use a big fat dose of global warming!”
Asking for something as damaging as global warming is extremely insensitive and ignorant. It is especially harmful for a presidential candidate like Trump, who has such a large audience, to make a statement like this. This tweet really just proves Trump’s stupidity and misunderstanding of the causes and effects of global warming.
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida shares this misunderstanding of climate change with his fellow Republican presidential candidate.
“The government can’t change the weather,” Rubio said in February 2013 during an interview with Fox and Friends … “We can pass a bunch of laws that will destroy our economy, but it isn’t going to change the weather.”
In that interview, Rubio acted as if economics is more concerning than the flooding of coastal cities and islands, while also confusing weather with climate change.
Rupert Murdoch, the man who now ironically owns National Geographic, as well as numerous other publications, tweeted with this same confusion.
“Back in U.S. What happened to global warming?” Murdoch wrote in January 2013. “London, D.C, New York seem like new ice age! Rockies too.”
And I can’t forget my personal favorite from Republican Sen. Joe Barton of Texas, who said in March 2009 that climate change is just a naturally occurring event that humans should adapt to.
“When it rains, we find shelter. When it’s hot, we get shade. When it’s cold, we find a warm place to stay.”
There are a few key issues surrounding climate change that must be understood in order for people like these individuals to see that daily weather patterns are no indication of whether or not climate change exists.
The first important distinction to make is between the terms “global warming” and “global climate change” because both have different meanings and effects. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, global warming only refers to the rising temperature on the Earth’s surface, whereas global climate change refers to this warming, but also the side effects that come with it. These side effects include the melting of glaciers, heavy rainstorms and droughts.
Another one of these side effects of global climate change may even be colder winters. According to a study done at Tokyo University, melting ice caused by warming temperatures increases the amount of open, darker water, which absorbs more heat and in turn warms the air above it. This warmer air slows down the jetstream, which halts weather systems and draws cooler Arctic air down over Europe and Northern Asia.
Additionally, according to an article published by The Boston Globe in February 2015, global climate change can actually increase snowfall, because of increased water vapor in the air due to warming temperatures. Those who experienced heavy snowfall last winter and claimed climate change doesn’t exist because of that snowfall were missing the point that climate change itself could have been causing the high levels of snow.
Another discrepancy that needs to be explained to climate change deniers is the difference between the weather and the climate. Weather is the pattern of the atmosphere on a daily, weekly, monthly or short term basis as opposed to climate, which is the weather’s behavior over a long period of time.
This distinction is the key reason it is called global climate change instead of global weather change. In the long run, Trump feeling a little cold one morning is extremely insignificant in regards to whether global climate change is occurring. Scientists look at data gathered over hundreds of years to prove global warming, not just one day, one month, one winter or even one year.
And the data gathered by scientists proves that the Earth’s temperature has been warming over the past hundreds of years. According to the University Corporation of Atmospheric Research, since 1880 the average global temperature has risen 1.53 degrees. Additionally, according to NASA, the 10 warmest years in the entire 134-year record of all temperatures ever recorded have all occurred since 2000, aside from the year of 1998.
It is pointless for people to ignore such a clear problem that is going to have such detrimental effects on every citizen in the world. Climate change has become a politicized issue, when in actuality it is a problem that everyone has to deal with and try to solve. Snow storms and colder fronts are used by deniers to justify their already empty claims that climate change doesn’t exist, but their own ignorance is undermining their cause.
Sophie Johnson is a freshman journalism major who could use a snow day. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.