On Monday's CBS This Morning, Charlie Rose predictably placed the blame for the unusually cold weather in North America on climate change. Rose wondered, "Is it definitely connected to global warming?"
Rose and co-anchor Norah O'Donnell turned to climate change alarmist Bryan Walsh of Time magazine, who only cited vague "theories...that some of the warming...you're seeing up in the Arctic might be changing the atmospheric circulation in that part of the world...and maybe, makes these cold spells a little more likely than they otherwise be." [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
The PBS veteran led the segment with Walsh by reporting that the "dangerously-cold weather comes from a blast of Arctic air known as a polar vortex. The nation is dealing with conditions not seen in decades. Today's high temperature in Minneapolis is expected to be minus-11." Rose then asked the Time senior editor to explain what a polar vortex is.
BRYAN WALSH, TIME SENIOR EDITOR: Well, a polar vortex is a – sort of, almost like a hurricane that forms over the poles – the Arctic in this case – extremely fast-moving winds; very, very cold, dense air. This isn't unusual, but what happens in this case, actually, is that the winds weaken somewhat, and that cold Arctic air spills over down into us.
Rose followed up by asking, "So, but is it stronger/weaker this year than it has been in the past?" As you might expect, the writer replied with his "theories...that some of the warming...maybe makes these cold spells a little more likely than they otherwise be" line. O'Donnell also wondered "if there has been an increase in the frequency of these polar vortexes." However, Walsh never explained that there's usually a polar vortex over the Arctic during the winter season.
The former NBC correspondent and the Time editor then revealed that neither one of them had much background knowledge on the phenomenon of the polar vortex:
O'DONNELL: ...This is the first time I've heard the phrase 'polar vortex'....And I don't feel I'm out of it. I mean, were you familiar with it?
WALSH: I was not that familiar with it – no – but now, of course, it's one of those terms that's – that's everywhere, and it really – it does, sort of, explain – you know, if you think what is a hurricane up in the north, and you see that wind spilling down, you can actually see the temperatures falling up in the upper Midwest, all the way down to the south.
Rose asked his "global warming" question near the end of the segment:
ROSE: Is it definitely connected to global warming?
WALSH: Potentially, it's connected to that-
WALSH: These, these – been happening already. What's new, perhaps, is the fact that the winds may actually [be] weakening. That could be due to warming in the Arctic; changing the atmospheric circulation; therefore, making it more likely for that cold, dense air to escape the vortex – spill down to us.