The Northern Hemisphere is experiencing unusually cold weather. Snow cover last December was the greatest since satellite monitoring began in 1966. The United Kingdom had the coldest March weather in 50 years, and there were more than a thousand record low temperatures in the United States. The Irish meteorological office reported that March “temperatures were the lowest on record nearly everywhere.” Spring snowfall in Europe was also high. In Moscow, the snow depth was the highest in 134 years of observation. In Kiev, authorities had to bring in military vehicles to clear snow from the streets.
Cold-weather extremes are a natural climatic variation, and this is exactly the point. If the world were experiencing a climate crisis owing to global warming, there shouldn’t be a single record low temperature anywhere in the world. The Associated Press has assured us, though, that this cold spell is not only consistent with a warming globe, it is actually caused by global warming. The proffered explanation is that cold weather in Europe is a result of melting sea ice in the Arctic. If this special pleading strikes you as unusually tendentious, it is all in the best tradition of explaining away ex post facto any weather event that appears to contradict the ruling paradigm.
In 2000, British climate researcher and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change contributor David Viner told the Independent that “within a few years, winter snowfall will become a very rare and exciting event.” Sadly, he predicted, “children just aren’t going to know what snow is.” In 2008, environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. wrote in the Los Angeles Times that “snow is so scarce today that most Virginia children probably don’t own a sled.”
On Feb. 6, 2010, the eastern United States was hit by a blizzard (“Snowmageddon”) that produced from 20 to 35 inches of snow. Three days later, a second blizzard added 10 to 20 more inches of snow. In Washington, D.C., it was the highest seasonal snowfall since record-keeping began in 1888. According to the National Climatic Data Center, there were “hundreds of record snowfall accumulations” across the United States during the 2009-10 winter season. Within a few days, the blizzards in the eastern U.S. were dismissed as the natural consequence of global warming. On Feb. 12, National Geographic News informed us that “global warming is the main culprit behind this month’s eastern U.S. snowstorms.”
On Feb. 8-10 of this year, the eastern United States was again struck by a blizzard that produced record snowfall, hurricane-strength gusts of wind, and left 700,000 people without electric power. On Feb. 18, the Associated Press provided the oxymoronic excuse that global warming produces “less snow and more blizzards.” You can’t make this stuff up.
Portraying cold weather as the result of global warming is only one aspect of the circus. Gems that stand out include claims that earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes are caused or will be made worse by global warming. Last year, we were told that global warming could “turn us all into hobbits,” the mythical creatures from J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels.
Confronted by an endless avalanche of such nonsensical drivel, it seems almost foolhardy to argue facts. There has been no increase in mean global temperature for 15 years. Drought is not increasing, nor are wildfires. Tornadoes are not increasing in frequency or intensity. Routine hurricanes such as Sandy and Katrina have been offered as evidence of climate change, but worldwide hurricane activity is near a 40-year low. Over the past 20 years, sea level has risen by about 5 centimeters an ominous trend unless you’re aware that since the end of the last Ice Age, global sea level has risen 120 meters.
At the end of March, the areal extent of sea ice in the Arctic was 3 percent below the 30-year average. Sea ice in the Antarctic, however, was elevated 24 percent. Global sea ice was above the 30-year mean and higher than it was in March 1980. Only the naive can be so logical as to reason that “global” warming, or lack thereof, should be evaluated in terms of “global” conditions rather than local. A study published in Nature Geoscience on March 31 concluded that the increase of Antarctic sea ice is caused by you guessed it global warming.
With each passing year, it is becoming increasingly clear that global warming is not a scientific theory subject to empirical falsification, but a political ideology that has to be fiercely defended against any challenge. It is ironic that skeptics are called “deniers” when every fact that would tend to falsify global warming is immediately explained away by an industry of denial.
David Deming, a geophysicist, is a professor at the University of Oklahoma and author of “Black & White: Politically Incorrect Essays on Politics, Culture, Science, Religion, Energy and Environment” (CreateSpace, 2011).