Ice, snow, so where's the global warming?

The Mountain Exhaled

Creative Commons License Photo credit: laszlo-photo

As winter weather hits us again, many people confuse the current weather (cold) with the long-term direction of the climate (warmer).

Just because it is cold outside right now doesn't mean that global warming isn't real. Global warming has to do with the climate, with the long-term trend of the world's average temperature. The short-term weather has to do with what is happening this week or next in the part of the world where we currently reside. The two are not identical, and colder weather does not contradict the fact that our climate is warming up.

Another reason the two related but not identical issues are confusing is that global climate change is not uniform across the globe. Just because it is colder where you live doesn't mean it isn't warmer, relatively, elsewhere. In fact, global warming is taking place much more at the northern latitudes than in the continental U.S.

This is the reason why, even though the U.S. is experiencing more severe winter weather, the Arctic summer ice is covering less and less of the Arctic water, opening the fabled Northern Passage. It is still very cold at the North Pole, but it is relatively warmer. Average temperatures have already increased in the northern latitudes by almost 4 degrees Fahrenheit, much more than at temperate latitudes.

This is also one reason among many why global warming is so threatening. As temperatures warm more rapidly nearer both poles, two things happen which bode ill for the entire world.

First, ice, ice sheets and glaciers are melting rapidly, much more rapidly than even the most dire predictions of a few years ago. The glaciers on Greenland are melting more quickly, and also accelerating the speed at which they move towards the open seas. In the Antarctic, massive ice sheets are breaking off. Both these developments will cause a faster than predicted rise in the ocean level. Instead of happening over a thousand years, the complete melting of the Greenland glaciers is likely to take a few hundred years - and when they are completely melted that will increase sea levels by over 25 feet, inundating many coastal cities.

Second, as the northern latitudes warm more rapidly, more and more of the permafrost will melt, releasing both carbon dioxide and methane that have been frozen for millennia. This could result in runaway global warming, coming on top of the direct human release of greenhouse gases.

There are many more reasons to be concerned about global climate change, but just because it is cold outside is no reason at all to ignore the problem.

In a thoughtful article at HuffingtonPost, environmentalist Bill McKibben explains why climate change is a different kind of problem. He makes the essential point that what climate change skeptics are fighting is not other politicians or scientists; it's physics.

In another good article, Bolivia's ambassador to the United Nations explains the seriousness of even sharper cuts in emissions, and also his concept of "climate debt."

Author: Marc Brodine, People’s World


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Guest GlobalWarmingMyAss

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Then why do the other scientist refute the notion of global warming? Why is that the only scientist that agree about Global Warming , are Tree Hugging Hippy Liberals?

Guess I answered my own question, because they ARE tree hugging hippy liberals.

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Guest Michelle

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It does seem that many people are confused about Global Warming when it comes to this cold weather. Because "warming" is in the title doesn't mean it won't be cold. Global Warming is changing our weather to the "extremes" and causing weather phenomena we aren't used to seeing or experiencing. I think Florida can attest to that.

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Did no else hear about ClimateGate??

Some hackers found out in emails from supposely honest men that global warming was a fraud..I totally believe in eco friendly but what is this when hackers straight up say and show in emails that what is being said and done globally is a fraud>>>>

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Guest danboise

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I think that when it comes to problems that concerns a large portion of population (in this case, the whole world), some people tend to call out fraud as a mean to scare the crap out of the people. However, in this case, I think there's some truth to it. Maybe not around you, but somewhere in the world, the Earth is acting weird based on things we do. There's a reason certain regions are getting more dry. If it was a fraud, wouldn't be a major waste of time and money to do conferences on the matter? I mean, politicians surely have more pressing and local matters to attend to.

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Guest yonofoco

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I think many people and especially the big media have difficulty looking at long term trends. It's so much simpler and easier for them to look at the immediate evidence which tells us nothing because weather and temps very from season to season from year to year. Climate change is about many years, decades, centuries... not about months or days.

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Good Post, thanks for sharing...

Join the 2010 Green IT Economic Summit Conference in hosting some of the most dynamic Green IT companies in the world, April 22, 2010 at the Ritz Carlton in Tysons Corner, Virginia.

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Guest Going Green

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I still believe that the glaciers are melting... Waiting to see what's going to happen is both interesting and scaring.

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Guest Dogs For Sale

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I am confused about Global Warming when it comes to this cold weather. Because "warming" is in the title doesn't mean it won't be cold. Global Warming is changing our weather to the "extremes" and causing weather phenomena we aren't used to seeing or experiencing.

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