Climate Change

Why Cold Weather Does Not Disprove Global Warming

Depending upon where you live, cooler temperatures may be headed your way this summer. Meteorologists expect residents to be hit with slightly colder temperatures all the way from the USA’s Northeast to its Southwest. 

Along with these below average temperatures, comes the frequently rehashed argument that Earth’s global climate is not warming up. In such times, it is important to know that even though it may not be exceedingly hot where you live, global warming has not gone away. Here’s why cold weather does not in any way diminish the reality of climate change.


Cold Weather is Expected

The trend for weather in a region is subject to yearly fluctuations, even as the total yearly count of cold summer days is decreasing over time. What this means is that, though the region will increasingly experience warm weather as time goes on, there are expected to be cold years thrown in the mix. This makes more sense if you examine the following charts of northeast United States summer weather. One can visibly see that the graph is sloping downward as time heads towards year 2100. However, if you look more closely at the number of cool days/nights in individual years, this figure rises and falls in the short term. Climate change is a phenomenon taking place over a long time span and, as such, there are expected short term deviations from the trend. As they are expected, such deviations certainly do not indicate a reversal of the trend. So, if the weather is colder this summer, it simply means that we are experiencing one of the minor fluctuations predicted by the model.
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Global Warming

The reason this climate change phenomenon goes by the name of ‘Global Warming,’ is because it is GLOBAL. The world as a whole is heating up, even if there are cold spells in certain areas. Looking back to the summer weather forecast, the west coast is expected to be significantly hotter than average. Thus, Americans that experience below-average summer temperatures should know that not everyone – not even everyone in their own country – is affected by cold weather; rather, most people see above average temperatures. Such truth is even more apparent upon examining temperatures all around the world. For example, in the year 2014, NASA scientists measured temperatures from locations all around the planet and concluded that it was the warmest year in recorded history. These record average global highs took place during the same year that many low temperature records and earliest snowfall records were seen in various locations around the eastern USA. This goes to show that even extreme cold over a sizable region is not enough to reverse the trend of a warming earth. It is important to remember that your local temperature is an extremely small data point in the context of the global climate, and does not on its own disprove the existence of a phenomenon that spans the entire globe. Lastly, below is a graph of “change in global surface temperature relative to 1951-1980 average temperatures,” depicting the rise in temperatures over the last century. The evidence is clear: regardless of whether or not it’s warm enough to swim at the beach in Nantucket, the world is getting hotter.

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