Right-wing media figures have again cited a December snowstorm as evidence that global warming isn't real. But scientists agree that short-term localized weather patterns are not relevant to global warming, and according to climate data centers, 2010 will rank among the hottest years on record.
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Right-Wing Media Cite December Snowstorm To Mock Global Warming
Beck Calls Snowstorm That Caused Stadium Roof Collapse "Proof That Global Warming Is Happening." On the December 13 edition of his radio show, Glenn Beck discussed a recent snowstorm that caused the roof of Minneapolis' Metrodome to collapse and stated that it was "proof that global warming is happening." [Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program, 12/13/10]
Fox Nation: "Paging Gore...Metrodome Collapses Under Snow Storm." On December 12, Fox Nation linked to a story about the roof of the Minnesota Vikings' football stadium collapsing with the headline, "Paging Gore...Metrodome Collapses Under Snow Storm." From Fox Nation:
[Fox Nation, 12/12/10]
Hoft On Snowstorm, Cold Temperatures: "It Must Be Global Warming." In a December 12 Gateway Pundit post, Jim Hoft wrote that "[s]now, ice and record cold temperatures are blasting the US this weekend" and stated, "It must be global warming":
Record cold temperatures are sweeping the the [sic] southern US as a from [sic] Southern Florida to Snow [sic], ice and record cold temperatures are blasting the US this weekend. Temperatures in Florida are 20 degrees below average in Florida. It must be global warming. [Gateway Pundit, 12/12/10]
Climate Scientists: Individual Storms Have No Relevance To Global Warming Debate
NASA Climatologist: "Weather Isn't Going To Go Away Because Of Climate Change." A March 2008 New York Times article reported that climate scientists -- including at least one who has disputed aspects of the scientific consensus on global warming -- completely reject the notion that short-term changes in weather, let alone individual storms, bear any relevance to the global warming debate:
Many scientists also say that the cool spell in no way undermines the enormous body of evidence pointing to a warming world with disrupted weather patterns, less ice and rising seas should heat-trapping greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels and forests continue to accumulate in the air.
"The current downturn is not very unusual,'' said Carl Mears, a scientist at Remote Sensing Systems, a private research group in Santa Rosa, Calif., that has been using satellite data to track global temperature and whose findings have been held out as reliable by a variety of climate experts. He pointed to similar drops in 1988, 1991-92, and 1998, but with a long-term warming trend clear nonetheless.
Michael E. Schlesinger, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, said that any focus on the last few months or years as evidence undermining the established theory that accumulating greenhouse gases are making the world warmer was, at best, a waste of time and, at worst, a harmful distraction.
Discerning a human influence on climate, he said, ''involves finding a signal in a noisy background.'' He added, ''The only way to do this within our noisy climate system is to average over a sufficient number of years that the noise is greatly diminished, thereby revealing the signal. This means that one cannot look at any single year and know whether what one is seeing is the signal or the noise or both the signal and the noise.''
Some scientists who strongly disagree with each other on the extent of warming coming in this century, and on what to do about it, agreed that it was important not to be tempted to overinterpret short-term swings in climate, either hot or cold.
Patrick J. Michaels, a climatologist and commentator with the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington, has long chided environmentalists and the media for overstating connections between extreme weather and human-caused warming. (He is on the program at the skeptics' conference.)
But Dr. Michaels said that those now trumpeting global cooling should beware of doing the same thing, saying that the ''predictable distortion'' of extreme weather ''goes in both directions.''
Gavin A. Schmidt, a climatologist at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in Manhattan who has spoken out about the need to reduce greenhouse gases, disagrees with Dr. Michaels on many issues, but concurred on this point.'
"When I get called by CNN to comment on a big summer storm or a drought or something, I give the same answer I give a guy who asks about a blizzard,'' Dr. Schmidt said. ''It's all in the long-term trends. Weather isn't going to go away because of climate change. There is this desire to explain everything that we see in terms of something you think you understand, whether that's the next ice age coming or global warming.'' [The New York Times, 3/2/08]
NASA, WMO: 2010 Among The Hottest Years On Record
NASA: 2010 Is Hottest Climate Year On Record. As The Washington Post reported, "New temperature readings released by NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies show 2010 now ranks as the hottest climate year on record," and that the data, "barring some temperature anomaly in December, should place 2010 as the warmest year on record overall." From the Post:
Even as negotiators in Cancun struggled Friday to reach a modest climate accord at the U.N.-sponsored talks here, new temperature readings released by NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies show 2010 now ranks as the hottest climate year on record.
Many scientists use the climate year, which runs from December of the preceding year to November of the current year, to evaluate long-term climate trends. The combined land-ocean temperature readings NASA's Goddard Institute posted Friday indicate that 2010 has surpassed what it identified as the previous warmest climate year, 2005.
The findings are significant, according to experts, and barring some temperature anomaly in December, should place 2010 as the warmest year on record overall. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which has identified 1998 as the warmest year on record with 2005 close behind, will release its climate year readings next week. [WashingtonPost.com's Post Carbon blog, 12/10/10]
WMO: 2010 "Almost Certain" To Rank Among Three Hottest Years. The Associated Press reported that the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is "almost certain" to rank 2010 "among the three hottest years on record." The AP further reported that WMO said that "2001-2010 is undoubtedly the warmest 10-year period since the beginning of weather records in 1850." From the AP:
This year is "almost certain" to rank among the three hottest years on record, and 2001-2010 is undoubtedly the warmest 10-year period since the beginning of weather records in 1850, the U.N. weather agency said Thursday.
Data from the World Meteorological Organization released at U.N. climate negotiations confirmed a warming trend that has gone on for decades, which scientists attribute to man-made pollution trapping heat in the atmosphere.
WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said this year's temperatures through October were at near-record levels. Data for November and December will be analyzed in early 2011 but were expected to be slightly cooler than normal.
Still, there is a "significant possibility 2010 could be the warmest," Jarraud told reporters. [The Associated Press, 12/2/10]
Right-Wing Media Have Previously Used December Snow To Claim Global Warming Is A "Fraud"
In December 2009, right-wing media highlighted snowfall during the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen, often suggesting that the winter storm was evidence that climate change is, in Rush Limbaugh's words, "a fraud."