Sentinel's Harmon repeated falsehood that U.S. winter storms cast doubt on global warming science

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

In a February 15 column, Gary Harmon of The Daily Sentinel of Grand Junction echoed the often-repeated but baseless conservative talking point that cold temperatures and heavy snowfall call into question global warming. Harmon also referred to a recent report by the United Nations' climate panel as an "outburst from the most corrupt organization on Earth."

Calling the recently released Fourth Assessment Report on global warming by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) an "outburst from the most corrupt organization on Earth," Gary Harmon of The Daily Sentinel of Grand Junction attempted to cast doubt on the existence of global warming in a February 15 column by pointing to recent blizzards and cold temperatures in Colorado and other parts of the country. As Colorado Media Matters has noted (here, here, and here), the conservative talking point that cold weather and winter storms somehow discredit the scientific evidence of global warming is both simplistic and misleading.

After ridiculing the IPCC's "verdict" that "[t]he insatiable American appetite for personal freedom, followed closely by those of the other industrialized democracies, is destroying the environment," Harmon said that the United Nations apparently "forgot to consult ... Mother Nature." He continued:

So, soon after we're told that the end is near (and boy is it hot!) a blizzard of historic proportions sweeps across southeastern Colorado.

As you read this with your morning cup of steaming coffee, the Eastern Seaboard is shoveling out of as many as two feet of snow. In Chicago, record amounts of snow fell, threatening to paralyze the place.

Harmon also stated, "It was so cold that the U.S. House had to cancel a hearing on global warming because it was just too cold and snowy." As Media Matters for America noted, CNN's Wolf Blitzer and Fox News Channel's Megyn Kelly and Brit Hume all reported on the cancellation of the hearing. News of cancellation of the climate change hearing and, as Hume reported, a showing of An Inconvenient Truth, the former vice president's documentary on global warming, both due to cold weather conditions, also appeared on the Drudge Report, the website of Internet gossip Matt Drudge. The weblog Think Progress noted that some right-wing bloggers cited the Drudge story as evidence that global warming does not exist.

Harmon's column echoed the conservative talking point -- repeated by other members of the media as well -- that Colorado's recent record early snow accumulation and colder-than-average temperatures call into question evidence of global warming. For example, on December 21, 2006, Jon Caldara, host of Newsradio 850 KOA's The Jon Caldara Show and president of the conservative Independence Institute, jokingly dismissed the topic of global warming by saying, "It is hard to talk global warming when I can't get my car out of my garage." Similarly, on January 31, The Pueblo Chieftain published an editorial suggesting that record snowfall in Anchorage, Alaska, cast doubt on climate change.

However, pointing to sporadic inclement weather in one area of the United States as "evidence" that disproves global warming is a misleading and simplistic conservative talking point. As a USA Today article noted, "Global warming is shorthand for 'climate change,' and the term is correct if you realize that it's referring to the average temperature of the Earth over the years; not to the temperatures at particular times and places." The article further reported that climate change "can lead to more snow piling up in places such as Antarctica and Greenland, and it can even include some parts of the Earth growing colder." Similarly, in a January 19 interview on National Public Radio's Talk of the Nation, Dr. Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research noted that as one effect of global warming, "you can get more snow."

Furthermore, as a press release from the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center noted regarding its preliminary 2006 report, "Following the warmest year on record for the globe in 2005, the annual global temperature for 2006 is expected to be sixth warmest since recordkeeping began in 1880." The report also concluded that "the 2006 annual average temperature for the contiguous United States (based on preliminary data) will likely be 2°F (1.1°C) above the 20th Century mean, which would make 2006 the third warmest year on record."

From Gary Harmon's column, "Hot temps, the surge, al-Sadr -- What's up?" in the February 15 edition of The Daily Sentinel of Grand Junction:

There must be something in the air.

Like snow.

And hot air.

Contrary to what you might have learned in sixth grade about meteorological charts, they can coexist -- and frequently do.

Witness, for instance, the recent outburst from the most corrupt organization on Earth, the United Nations, to the effect that the debate over global warming is over and the verdict in.

The verdict, of course, is that wedunit. The insatiable American appetite for personal freedom, followed closely by those of the other industrialized democracies, is destroying the environment. As punishment, we'll all be required to ride in smelly buses and give the Lexus keys to illiterate Third World types incapable of distinguishing between the accelerator pedal and the glove compartment.

But wait.

It seems the UN forgot to consult someone when it found its consensus. And we all know that you fool with Mother Nature at your peril.

So, soon after we're told that the end is near (and boy is it hot!) a blizzard of historic proportions sweeps across southeastern Colorado.

As you read this with your morning cup of steaming coffee, the Eastern Seaboard is shoveling out of as many as two feet of snow. In Chicago, record amounts of snow fell, threatening to paralyze the place.

It was St. Valentine's Day, and Al Capone had nuttin' on the weather. It was almost as though mastodons were seen walking the streets of the Windy City looking for a place to warm up.

Of course, it's winter. It's supposed to be cold in Colorado, to say nothing of Maine, Illinois and New York.

There's a reason that you can't get fresh citrus from the Golden State, though, at City Market.

A cold snap there turned the oranges blue and cost fruit growers about $1 billion.

A quick look at a temperature map of the United States shows more negatives than George W. Bush's popularity ratings.

All of which goes to show that whatever else you do, don't irritate Mother Nature.

It was so cold that the U.S. House had to cancel a hearing on global warming because it was just too cold and snowy.

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