As you may have heard, the other day the President of the United States (POTUS) tweeted the following: “In the beautiful Midwest, windchill temperatures are reaching minus 60 degrees, the coldest ever recorded. In coming days, expected to get even colder. People can’t last outside even for minutes. What the hell is going on with Global Waming? Please come back fast, we need you!” While few things POTUS does surprise anyone anymore, seeing someone broadly spread false rhetoric about science is worthy of a response.
Implying that it being cold in parts of the U.S. disproves global warming is like me saying because I am hungry there must be a regional food shortage. It is illogical but most accurately, it is a reflection of a self-centered view that fails to look at the big picture. That inability to look at things from a global perspective is one of the core shortcomings of the current POTUS. In response to the tweet, several have tried to educate POTUS on his level, including these kids on Jimmy Kimmel as well as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) with this cute cartoon.
For some real perspective, the University of Maine has the Climate Reanalyzer project which has tons of awesome data and graphics. In the image at the top of this post, it demonstrates how stepping back and looking at the full planet shows how while it is colder than normal in some areas, the majority of earth is warmer than normal. In fact, temps in South Australia’s capital of Adelaide hit 115 degrees Fahrenheit last week, breaking an 80 year old record as one example. I would also recommend spending less than a minute and checking this annual global temperature compare out from NASA.
I will close out with an analogy from Naomi Oreskes in Merchants of Doubt:
Imagine a gigantic banquet. Hundreds of millions of people come to eat. They eat and drink to their hearts’ content—eating food that is better and more abundant than at the finest tables in ancient Athens or Rome, or even in the palaces of medieval Europe. Then, one day, a man arrives, wearing a white dinner jacket. He says he is holding the bill. Not surprisingly, the diners are in shock. Some begin to deny that this is their bill. Others deny that there even is a bill. Still others deny that they partook of the meal. One diner suggests that the man is not really a waiter, but is only trying to get attention for himself or to raise money for his own projects. Finally, the group concludes that if they simply ignore the waiter, he will go away. This is where we stand today on the subject of global warming. For the past 150 years, industrial civilization has been dining on the energy stored in fossil fuels, and the bill has come due. Yet, we have sat around the dinner table denying that it is our bill, and doubting the credibility of the man who delivered it.