Frigid Arctic weather is descending upon millions of Americans. Michigan, along with other states, has declared a state of emergencies. Schools are closed, mail delivery has been cancelled, businesses have closed or reduced their hours and DTE is running low on precious natural gas.
The media is driving home the dangers of frostbite in as little as 5 minutes and the need to layer up and stay safe. And as always in extremely cold temperatures, our own Hell, MI, gets regional and even national attention for “freezing over.” H-yuck, h-yuck.
It is little wonder that people may be wondering how things can be so cold when the planet is supposed to be experiencing global warming. President Trump tweeted Monday:
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 29, 2019
While Trump’s tweet could be tongue-in-cheek jab at making his critic’s heads explode, the fact is that global warming hasn’t left us. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration responded Tuesday with a tweet of their own:
— NOAA Climate.gov (@NOAAClimate) January 29, 2019
“Global warming” is something of a misnomer and is being replaced by the more accurate and encompassing “climate change.” Climate change is making things warmer, but also creating more extremes such as the current polar vortex.
“Climate Change” Explained:
- Weather is short-term changes in the atmosphere.
- Climate is the average weather over time.
- Scientists agree that long term, man-made climate disruption as with the increasing release of CO2 emissions, can multiply and intensify extreme weather events.
The Cause of “Climate Change”:
- Carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere as a result of burning fossil fuels.
- Carbon dioxide traps heat and warms the planet, particularly the weather-creating oceans.
- CO2 levels have risen from 280 parts per million in the late 1800s to 410 parts per million last year.
How It Looks in the Real World
One theory explaining our current record-breaking cold is that changes in the jet stream that otherwise holds the polar vortex over the Arctic, allow lobes of frigid cold to descend farther south, as happened this week.
It is for these reasons that scientists maintain that this week’s frigid weather followed by next week’s rapid warm-up is proof of changing climate and an omen of weather extremes to come.