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Weather vs Climate: Why the Difference Matters

In many parts of the country, today (1/29/19) is set to be extremely cold. Tomorrow is supposed to be even colder than that, with temperatures that feel as low as -50 degrees Fahrenheit. This has prompted the President to return to statements he’s previously made when the temperature drops about how he longs for global warming to give us relief from the cold.

These comments may be jokes, but if they are said with any degree of sincerity, let’s see if science actually backs up the President’s logic. (Spoilers, it doesn’t)

Global Warming

Let’s first look at what Global Warming actually is. Global warming, sometimes called climate change, is the trend of rising average temperatures over a long-term period of time and the effects that it can have. Using recorded temperatures of the past and present, scientists can make predictive models of the future. To assert that global warming is a myth is to willfully ignore quantifiable data and the scientific method.

 The Opposition

It has generally been the position of the right wing of the political spectrum that global warming is a myth.

Conservatives are typically against extensive regulation (economically, not socially). Pollution is believed to be one of the main causes of global warming. Large corporations are responsible for a huge chunk of that pollution. The only way to get the large companies to pollute less is usually through legislation and regulation, regulation that would cost the companies lots of money. Long story short, it’s less profitable for large companies (often the base of conservative politicians) for global warming to be a thing.

The Cold Day Fallacy

Climate change is a trend. A cold day, a cold week, a cold month, even a cold year is a data point. To suggest that because it’s cold outside we need global warming to make things more comfortable is absurd. Moreover, it ignores weather patterns around the rest of the globe.

Vanishing ice caps at the polls are raising water levels around the planet. Australia is recording some of the hottest temperatures on record. The waters around Australia are so hot that fish are washing up dead. But, it’s cold in Minnesota, so global warming debunked…

This is a fallacy that the President has made repeatedly in the past. He seems to be confusing weather (day to day temperatures) with climate (temperatures over a long period, around 30 years).

It wouldn’t be as big a deal if it wasn’t gross misinformation coming from the highest office in the land, an office people are supposed to be able to trust.

On the Other Hand

The President’s actually tweeted that Global “Waming” needs to come back fast. Sure, maybe it was typo used in a misguided attempt to mock those who believe in…science. But, maybe it was a different typo and what he was trying to say is that we need Global Whamming. As a fan of the late, great George Michael, that is a message I can certainly get behind. After all, suggesting that the world take a break and listen to Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go is less ridiculous than asking for Global Warming to intensify.