If it’s very cold. No, that doesn’t mean climate change is a hoax.

A view of a road closed due to a lot of snow.

A road closed during the polar vortex in Buffalo, New York, in January 2019. (Lindsay DeDario/Reuters)

What Temperatures in the United States plummeted this week As a polar vortex descended across the country, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration made sure to remind Americans that the arctic flareup doesn’t mean climate change isn’t happening.

In a tweet posted Thursday, NASA Climate, a division of the space agency, noted long-term trends since humanity began pouring greenhouse gases into Earth’s atmosphere.

On its website, NASA Climate explains that although “Earth’s climate has changed throughout history,” the rate of change experienced since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution is unprecedented, about 10 times faster than the rate average warming experienced after an ice age. . The causal mechanism that explains our accelerating rate of warming, the greenhouse effect, was established in the mid-19th century.

“It is undeniable that human activities have produced the atmospheric gases that have trapped more of the Sun’s energy in the Earth system.” NASA Weather says on its website.

While the impulse to deny climate change based on immediate weather conditions outside the window is tempting, it’s also worth remembering that global warming is a global phenomenon and while one area may experience freezing temperatures, the planet as a whole continues to warm. .

In February 2021, a polar vortex descended over the Great Plains, spreading as far as South Texas, leaving more than 4.5 million homes and businesses without power and killing more than 170 people. The studies from linked severe winter outbreak to climate change. Due to the fact that the Arctic is warming faster than any other region on Earth, those higher temperatures have been shown to disrupt the behavior of polar vortices, weakening them so they drift south over the US. continental.

Those seemingly counterintuitive findings have done little to assuage the climate change denial that regularly runs rampant on social media during the winter months, promoting versions of the opinion “If global warming is really happening, why is it so cold?” outside?” Perhaps the most famous example of that faulty logic occurred in February 2015, when Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., brought a snowball to the Senate.

“In case we’ve forgotten because we keep hearing that 2014 has been the warmest year on record,” said Inhofe, then chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, “I asked the president, do you know what this is? It’s a snowball right outside here. So it’s very, very cold outside. Very out of season.”

While the fact remains that, along with rising atmospheric CO2, average temperatures have risen since the late 1800s, and sea ice has declined, the planet will continue to experience cold winters for decades to come.

“The conclusion is that extreme cold events are not only incompatible with 1 degree [Celsius] of warming that we’ve already had, we can expect them to continue for the foreseeable future,” said Noah Diffenbaugh, a climatologist at Stanford University, told Yahoo News in 2021.

That may even include record low temperatures like the ones that swept across much of Canada this week. What is more telling, however, is the longer-term trend in which the number of record high daily temperatures continues to exceed the number of record lows by a ratio of 2:1, according to a 2009 study by the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Computer models suggest that the disparity will increase to 20:1 by 2050 and 50:1 by 2100.

A man walks along Lake Michigan at sunrise, even though the sun is out of sight.

A man walks along Lake Michigan at sunrise as temperatures hover around 8 degrees below zero Thursday in Chicago. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

But now with more than 1 million homes in the United States without powerWith thousands of canceled flights and icy roads, there is a similar temptation to dismiss the reality of climate change. On Twitter, for example, a wave of climate denial has joined using the hashtags #ClimateScam and #ClimateHoax.

Renowned climate scientist Michael Mann, director of the Penn Center for Science, Sustainability and the Media at the University of Pennsylvania, has watched with dismay as climate denial on Twitter has increased this winter.

“Twitter was a primary medium for disseminating the facts surrounding the climate crisis,” Mann told E&E News, an environmental news platform, in an email. “By infecting online discourse with massive armies of trolls and bots, it becomes very difficult to communicate these facts, which is precisely what polluters and petro-state bad actors like Russia and Saudi Arabia want.”

While there is no doubt that the bots promoting climate denialism have gone wild, their effect can be felt at holiday gatherings and even in the halls of Congress by those who claim cold weather proves climate change. It’s not real. For climate scientists like Peter Gleick, co-founder of the Pacific Institute in Oakland, these views are all too familiar by now.

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