Trump’s ignorance of (or dishonesty about) climate change science was on full display in a Thanksgiving tweet. He implied the record cold temperatures in the eastern half of the country were some sort of counter-evidence of climate change. He tweeted: “Brutal and Extended Cold Blast could shatter ALL RECORDS – Whatever happened to Global Warming?” Were this an isolated comment, it may have been subject to a different interpretation. However, he has been a consistent climate change denier, has appointed deniers to to key positions, and pulled the U.S. out of Paris Climate Accord. Climate activist and author Bill McKibben tweeted back, noting that on the same day, global temps were 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.16 Fahrenheit) above historic averages. Trump has recently stated he has a “natural instinct for science,” despite ignoring the scientific community and his own subject matter experts on the issue. More on Trump’s tweet and the reactions to it can be found in this Newsweek article.
However, the cold snap in the eastern U.S., which follows at least two brutal winters on the east coast, is not just an anomaly in the global warming trend. It appears to actually be caused by the warming of the arctic. Several articles last winter explained it. For example, one article described it as follows:
Every winter, an extremely cold pool of air forms over the Arctic and is normally trapped in the polar vortex, a gigantic circular weather pattern around the North Pole. But the vortex is weakening, allowing the Arctic air pool to escape south when conditions are right. Researchers now believe it is the combination of a warmer Arctic and the loss of sea ice, along with a strong west-coast ridge of high pressure, that allows the polar vortex jailbreak.
Another factor was explained in an NBC article:
In addition, “abnormally” warm ocean temperatures off the West Coast are causing the jet stream over North America — which moves from west to east and follows the boundaries between hot and cold air — to “bulge” northward, Francis said.
That scenario is what has caused a lack of storms so far this winter in California and Alaska’s unusually warm and record-breaking temperatures, she added.
Meanwhile, the wrinkled jet stream as it travels east is also being pushed farther south, according to her research.
Think of closing several but not all vents on your car’s air conditioner. The remaining open vents project a more forceful and direct air current. However, studies have shown that polar temperatures are increasing at twice the rate of the rest of the world, leading to rapid melting of the ice caps. Since most of the World’s population resides outside of these regions, we rely on scientific studies and reporting to learn of the observed changes in those regions. The less informed portion of the population (and the misinformed portion), are unaware or disbelieve such reporting in favor of their own personal observation or conspiracy theories promoted by tabloid media outlets.
The ice caps have also played an important role in stabilizing temperatures by reflecting the sun’s warming rays back into space. Their shrinkage (and the shrinkage of the World’s glaciers and snow cap mountain areas) results in less reflection of those rays. This amplifies the global warming effect. Also, the thawing of the polar ice caps and perma-frost releases carbon into the atmosphere, further increasing the amount of global warming gasses. Man made emissions that cause global warming that, in turn, triggers further warming mechanisms is referred to as a “feedback loop.” It can also be thought of as a vicious cycle.
Effective climate action will start with accurate and intensive reporting, so that significant public resistance to carbon emission reduction will disapate. This will require restraint on the part of tabloid media outlets in using climate change conspiracy theories to enhance viewership.