It’s a common misconception that global warming is the physical warming of the globe everywhere, resulting in warmer weather all the time. Statements like “how can the earth be in global warming if this is one of the coldest winters in the last three years.” Or, “but I can still make a snowman!”. Or, the recent tweet from President Trump, “In the beautiful midwest windshield temperatures are reaching minus 60 degrees. What the hell is going on with Global Warming? Come back fast, we need you!” perpetuated this confusion between what climate is and what weather is.
In fact, climate and weather are two entirely different things. Climate is a long term phenomenon of the kind of weather you should excpect in a given season, weather is what is happing outside as of right now. President Trump’s tweet is in spefic reference to the polar vortex which impacted the midwest during the last week of January.
What he and many other American’s are missing is that global warming does not dictate whether or not it is possible for snow to form or for windshields to dip into cold temperatures. In fact the seemingly strengthing polar vortex is the result of the polar jet stream weaking, ironically due to global warming, which is usually at it’s strongest during the winter keeping intense windchill up in the artic circle. As more hot air piles up at the equator due to building greenhouse gases, the pressure barrier between the polar air and the tropical is higher in some areas than others causing the polar jet stream to dip into lower altidues, the midwest U.S. in this case, intesitifying the winter weather. Key word weather.
It is easy to draw a quick parallel between cold temperatures and an absence of warming, but the expectation that everywhere on earth will no longer be cold is an ridiculous standard. The fallacy is known as a straw man. In which the target, Global Warming, is oversimplified to in this case, just warming the whole earth at once, and is then attacked from that direction by pointing out that cold should not exist anywhere at all now that the globe has “warmed”. Trump, and friends have judged the book entirley by the cover.
The earth is different everywhere, there’s cold and warm, there’s rainforests, and deserts. The earth is a collection of these drastically different climates and interacts accordingly, if the earth reacted to everything in the same way how would it be possible to have the variety that we see? The important note which direction the thermometer is moving, hot or cold, that’s always to be expected. The danger comes is about how far those temperatures stray from what is familiar.
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