Monday, January 01, 2018

The President Doesn't Care to Understand Global Warming

It’s a shame—ours and his.

President Trump raises his hand toward a camera. (Credit: Jonathan Ernst / Reuters) Click to Enlarge.
Thursday night, as record lows gripped most of the country’s northern half, President Trump clarified that he does not understand another revolution in our knowledge of the natural order of things:  the theory of human-driven climate change.

Trump is wrong about the science—I’ll get to that in a moment—but, first, let’s not mince words:  The president is trolling here.  Pointing to cold weather and asking Whither climate change? is, by this point, almost a Republican tradition.  In February 2015 Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma brought a snowball inside the Senate chambers to demonstrate that global warming was not real.  “It’s very, very cold out.  Very unseasonable,” said Inhofe, then the chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee.  “In case we have forgotten because we keep hearing that 2014 has been the warmest year on record.”

Despite the snowball, 2014 was the warmest year on record.  It was followed by 2015, which broke 2014’s record and became the new hottest year on record; and 2016, which became the new hottest year after it blasted away 2015’s record.  Though this year is not yet over, NASA estimates that 2017 will also beat 2015’s record and become the second-hottest year ever recorded.  And even if this late cold snap averts that dreadful streak, 2017 will still break 2014’s record.  We have just lived through what would be, in any other decade, the warmest year ever measured.

Perhaps Trump has forgotten that his native New York suffered three heat waves by late July this year, or that a “normal” summer now would count as a “hot” summer during the 20th century.  Scorching temperatures have vanished not because global warming has stopped, but because it is the winter, which every preschooler knows as the “cold season.”  Six months after hurricane season ends, Floridians do not ask where the tropical cyclones have gone; cable-news pundits do not spend time every night debating whether the sun will rise the next morning, though that may be preferable to what is currently aired.

And there is, in fact, a connection between global warming and the current frigid weather across the United States.  Spend some time clicking around the Climate Reanalyzer—a fantastic tool from the University of Maine—and you’ll see that the northern half of North America is the only part of the world where temperatures are significantly colder right now than normal.  Moscow, Russia, is normally about 24 degrees Fahrenheit this time of year; it’s currently pushing 40.  The Arctic as a whole is more than 5 degrees Fahrenheit above normal.

Nor is this phenomenon limited to exotic capitals.  Los Angeles has an average high of 68 degrees Fahrenheit on December 29.  [Fri]day it hit 82.

Read more at The President Doesn't Care to Understand Global Warming

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