In recent days, conservatives have seized on the cold snap gripping the southeast region of the country to cast doubt on global warming. “Hey Al Gore: we want our global warming, and we want it now,” said Newsbusters’ Mark Finkelstein. In his newsletter today, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich wondered about “Al Gore’s explanation for this miserable, persistent chill,” and the National Review’s Mona Charen claimed that the “cold snap has spurred the ‘warmists’ to spin control.”
For the past week, Fox News host Neil Cavuto has been giving a daily “Fox News global warming alert,” which consists of him telling viewers how cold it is. “It is still cold,” Cavuto said yesterday, adding that it’s “not your recent garden variety global warming.” “It’s freezing across the entire globe,” Cavuto shouted on Saturday. Former Nixon speechwriter and actor Ben Stein responded, “Maybe somebody in the government will wake up and say, ‘Hey, it’s colder. It’s not hotter.’ Maybe all this talk about global warming needs to be rethought.” Watch a compilation:
Of course, a short-term cold snap in a few isolated regions does not disprove global climate change. In fact, the cold snap appears unrelated to climate change. As the AP reported, “experts interviewed…did not connect the current frigid blast to climate change,” instead pointing to “arctic oscillation”:
In the atmosphere, large rivers of air travel roughly west to east around the globe between the Arctic and the tropics. This air flow acts like a fence to keep Arctic air confined. But recently, this air flow has become bent into a pronounced zigzag pattern, meandering north and south. If you live in a place where it brings air up from the south, you get warm weather. In fact, record highs were reported this week in Washington state and Alaska. But in the eastern United States, like some other unlucky parts of the globe, Arctic air is swooping down from the north.
Temperatures in “most places” are actually “above average for this time of year.” Record high and low temperatures are set every year, but there have been consistently more highs than lows in recent decades, as the National Center for Atmospheric Research demonstrates:
The last decade was the hottest decade on record by far, and 2009 was also one of the hottest years on record. Climate Progress’ Joe Romm notes that this decade will likely have even higher temperatures.