me, myself and my words
Less than two weeks ago Washington DC was struck by what is being described as the heaviest snowfall in 90 years, called “Snowmageddon” by President Barack Obama. At the same time however, Vancouver has to bring in truckloads of snow for the winter Olympics as it has just experienced the warmest January on record. What interests me is the avalanche of comments on how this proves the global warming advocates wrong. There is a difference between variations in weather and climate change. Weather is generally precipitation and temperature in a given place and time. Climate is the weather conditions over a long period of time. So to me, a spell of cold weather doesn’t prove anything when it comes to global warming.
I found an interesting article about a study by Mojib Latif, a climate expert at the Leibniz Institute at Kiel University in Germany and a member of UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In this study, published in 2008, he showed that the world may experience a trend towards cooler weather. This cooling cycle may very well offset some of the effects of global warming. However, this does not mean that global warming does not exist. According to Latif, this is a weather phenomenon with effect on global temperatures and cannot be compared to climate change. This view is supported by others; the Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization, Michel Jarraud, says local weather variability should not be confused with climate change and there will be exceptional weather events somewhere in the world every year.
Latif says manmade climate change and natural variations happen side by side. Snow outside the window may to some be a sign that global warming is not occurring, but that is confusing weather and climate. So even if there is snow outside your window, the discussion on global warming is still out there as well.