Environment Writer: Ignore the Record Cold; Global Warming Is Happening

Brrrrrr!

Ignore the record shattering freezing weather surrounding you. Global Warming is happening. Please believe me. Oh, pretty please!

That is pretty much the theme of an article by Michael McCarthy, the U.K. Independent environment writer. With this cold weather it must be tough to plead the case for global warming but McCarthy takes a desperate stab at it:

You might think the current weather conditions are almost Siberian – and you'd be right. Britain's most prolonged spell of freezing weather since 1981 is being caused by a huge mass of intensely cold air over north-east Russia, with easterly winds sweeping its glacial temperatures across northern Europe to the UK.

And just as in the 20th century's coldest ever winter in Britain, of 1962-63 – although not on such a severe scale – the cold is being held in place over the British Isles by what is known as a "blocking anti-cyclone", a static area of high pressure over Greenland which is preventing the usual warmer, damper westerly winds from reaching us across the Atlantic.

After acknowledging the cold weather, McCarthy makes his case for why global warming is still happening despite millions of shivering skins:

The present situation is known as an "Omega block" as it consists of two high-pressure systems which on a weather map resemble the two arms of the Greek letter Omega – the Greenland one, and the Siberian anti-cyclone itself (whose stillness and clear skies are causing its intense cold, as much as 48C below zero in some places).

So if it is the longest cold snap for 29 years, does that prove that the idea of global warming is a non-starter? Funnily enough, it doesn't. For once you look at current meteorological conditions across the whole world, a different picture emerges.

Oh, so this incredibly cold weather doesn't disprove global warming since it can be blamed on that inconvenient "Omega block." Is that like sun block and will it burn my eyes if applied to my face?

"Funnily enough," McCarthy comes up some really funny examples of how we are really unusually warm: 

...in north-east America and Canada, in north Africa, across the Mediterranean, through to south-west Asia, temperatures are very much above normal – in many places by more than 5C, and in parts of northern Canada, by more than 10C.

Closer to home, while we shivered yesterday, in Madrid the temperature was 10C against a seasonal average of 9C, and in Rome it was 13C, compared to an average of 11C. The weather's natural variability means it is impossible to draw long-term conclusions about a changing climate from any single episode, be it of hot, or cold.

Wow! You mean Madrid was one whole degree above average yesterday? Well, you convinced me, Michael. Global warming is coming. Time to break out my Chicken Little costume and warn the world of imminent doom.

As to McCarthy's bizarre assertion that in north-east America and Canada "temperatures are very much above normal," please don't point him to this AccuWeather report. It could shatter his factually challenged illusions about what the weather is really like in that part of the world:

Nearly the entire eastern half of the United States is enduring bitterly cold temperatures not experienced since 1985. Even Florida, which has been hovering around freezing levels overnight recently, is also feeling the almost-nationwide chill. 

With the entire eastern half of the country in the throes of this arctic snap, this is shaping up to be the coldest winter in many people's memories. 

On the plus side of the weather, McCarthy's "global warming" threatens to kill off most of the annoying iguanas in South Florida. 

P.J. Gladnick
P.J. Gladnick
P.J. Gladnick is a freelance writer and creator of the DUmmie FUnnies blog.