As temperatures reach record highs across the United States, a Washington Times editorial cautions against "[r]elying on anecdotes of hot summer temperatures as evidence of global warming." But the Washington Times has repeatedly pointed to local winter weather to cast doubt on climate science, while scientists have established a strong body of evidence documenting a long-term warming trend.
The editorial warns readers to "[b]eware of warmists who point to localized summer heat as proof of climate change across the entire world." It points out that because the U.S. represents less that 2 percent of the Earth's surface, "sizzling thermometer readings here don't indicate temperature patterns elsewhere."
But the Washington Times was singing a different tune during the infamous "Snowmageddon" storm in Washington, DC. A February 2010 editorial proclaimed: "Record snowfall illustrates the obvious: The global warming fraud is without equal in modern science." Another editorial claimed that the snowstorm was "undermining the case for global warming one flake at a time." And earlier that winter, the Washington Times cited a blizzard in Minneapolis and cold temperatures in Europe as evidence of the "global-warming hoax."
Pointing to an isolated weather event to rebut long-term, global temperature trends is laughable. Climate change isn't going to eliminate winter. But unlike the Washington Times, climate scientists aren't "[r]elying on anecdotes" to make their case -- there is already substantial evidence supporting the scientific consensus that global warming is happening and is largely driven by human activity.
Scientists are merely noting that climate change increases the probability of certain extreme weather events like the heat wave we are experiencing. As Chris Field of the Carnegie Institution put it, climate change is "loading the dice towards these very damaging kinds of extremes." If "Snowmageddons" and coldsnaps kept happening year after year, it would tell us something about our climate over time. But that's not what's happening. Instead, we are seeing more and more record high temperatures in the U.S.