Global warming is nowhere to be found. The mean global temperature has not risen in 17 years and has been slowly falling for approximately the past 10 years. In 2013, there were more record-low temperatures than record-high temperatures in the United States.
At the end of the first week in January, a brutal spell of cold weather settled over most of the country. Multiple cold-temperature records were shattered across the country. Some sites experienced frigid conditions not seen since the 19th century. Chicago and New York City broke temperature records set in 1894 and 1896, respectively. These extremes were not singular, but exemplary of conditions throughout much of the continent. Temperatures in Chicago were so cold that a polar bear at the Lincoln Park Zoo had to be taken inside.
The onset of polar conditions over the United States was also a reminder that cold weather in general is more inimical to human welfare than warm weather. The operation of power grids, gas pipelines and oil refineries was disrupted. Passengers on Amtrak trains were left stranded, and thousands of flights were delayed or canceled. By Jan. 7, the media were reporting at least 21 deaths directly related to the cold.
The January freeze caused $3 million in damage to vineyards in Ohio. Citrus crops in Florida apparently escaped damage, but California growers were not so lucky. A weeklong spell of cold weather in early December damaged up to half of the state’s $1.5 billion citrus crop. California farmers may (or may not) take consolation in the fact that their state government is attempting to further cool the climate by mandating a reduction in carbon-dioxide emissions.
As frigid conditions settled over the nation, global-warming alarmists went into full denial mode. We were emphatically lectured that singular weather events are not necessarily indicative of long-term climate trends. True enough, but haven’t we been repeatedly told that weather events such as hurricanes Sandy and Katrina are unequivocal proof of global warming? If we’re really in the middle of a “climate crisis,” is it not remarkable that low-temperature records from the 19th century were shattered?
Weather extremes also seem to bring out the lunatic fringe. Of course, when we’re discussing global warming, it’s difficult to tell where the mainstream stops and the fringe begins. We were subjected to the oxymoronic explanation that frigid weather was, in fact, caused by global warming. According to Time magazine, cold temperatures in the United States were a result of global warming forcing the polar vortex southward. But in 1974, the same Time informed us that descent of the polar vortex into temperate zones was a harbinger of a new Ice Age.
It is true that the extent of sea ice at the North Pole is slightly below the 30-year average. However, an event near Antarctica reminded us that sea ice there is near an all-time high. In late December, a ship of global-warming researchers became stuck in Antarctic sea ice. The ice was so thick that two icebreakers sent to rescue the scientists were unable to break through. Passengers had to be removed by helicopter. Despite all the claims that the poles are melting and polar bears drowning, the global extent of sea ice remains stubbornly and significantly above the long-term mean. Apparently, the buildup of heat from global warming is producing more ice, not less, in defiance of both the laws of physics and common sense.
It seems now that everyone is qualified to have an opinion on global warming. In a recent column, theology professor Susan Thistlethwaite explained that “frigid weather” was an “example of the kind of violent and abrupt climate change that results from global warming.” Sometimes, I just feel so stupid. I thought cold weather was attributable to the annual phenomenon known as “winter.” The good professor also claimed that cold weather in the United States is a punishment sent by God for “our sinful failure to take care of the Creation.”
If the current cooling trend continues for a few more years, the theory of global warming faces imminent extinction. It will then join a long list of other expired environmental doom-and-gloom predictions, including overpopulation, peak oil and nuclear winter.
David Deming is a geophysicist, professor of arts and sciences at the University of Oklahoma, and the author of “Black & White: Politically Incorrect Essays on Politics, Culture, Science, Religion, Energy and Environment” (CreateSpace, 2011).