Is Global Warming the Reason for the Extreme Cold in America?

With the U.S. experiencing one of its worst bouts of freezing cold temperatures, global warming has once again become a hot topic across all media. (Image: via  pxhere  /  CC0 1.0)
With the U.S. experiencing one of its worst bouts of freezing cold temperatures, global warming has once again become a hot topic across all media. (Image: via pxhere / CC0 1.0)

With the U.S. experiencing one of its worst bouts of freezing cold temperatures, global warming has once again become a hot topic across all media. In some places, people have been advised to stop venturing outside their homes.

Freezing cold

The big freeze is said to be the result of a disruption in the polar vortex. This is a large, low-pressure zone in the North Pole that rotates counter-clockwise beneath which there is a large mass of dense, cold Arctic air. When the vortex remains strong, Arctic air remains within its regular boundaries. However, when the vortex weakens, Arctic air will move southward to the equator.

Climate change comes into the picture as the “readily-available” answer to why the polar vortex has weakened. The phenomenon that causes the vortex to become weak is called “sudden stratospheric warming” in which temperatures in the upper atmospheric layers rise by up to 90°F.

“Warmer land temperatures, particularly in northern North America and northern Eurasia, allow more heat to be transported into the Arctic stratosphere. A warmer Earth makes sudden stratospheric warming events more likely and more frequent. And those events destabilize the polar vortex, bring cold air down into the mid-latitudes, and cause the extreme weather we’re experiencing right now,” according to Forbes.

Sudden Stratospheric Warming 0-15 screenshot

The phenomenon that causes the polar vortex to become weak is called ‘sudden stratospheric warming.’ (Image: Screenshot / YouTube)

Some experts say that this is an indication that much colder winters await us in the future. However, not everyone is convinced with this line of reasoning. Prior to the sudden freeze, the U.S. had experienced warmer than average winters. This is in line with the general understanding among scientists that global warming will result in warmer winters and hotter summers.  As such, arguing that global warming will result in colder winters is seen as logically flawed. But it is possible that short bouts of extreme cold might occur even within a warming climate.

“[To] make it (the link between climate change and extreme cold) the centerpiece of the public discourse on global warming is inappropriate and a distraction… Even in a warming climate, we could experience an extraordinary run of cold winters, but harsher winters in future decades are not among the most likely nor the most serious consequences of global warming,” climate scientist John Wallace and five other scientists said in a statement (U.S. News & World Report).

Hotter temperatures

While the U.S. is coping with freezing cold, its ally Australia is dealing with record hot temperatures. In fact, January 2019 was recognized as the hottest month in history. According to the Bureau of Meteorology, the country’s mean temperatures went above 86°F for the first time since 1910.

School children are said to be coming straight back home after class rather than playing outside. Rainfall has been affected, with most regions of the country receiving just 20 percent of their normal levels. A court in New South Wales even rejected an appeal for permission to develop a new coal mine since it was the “wrong time” for coal.

coalmine

A court in New South Wales even rejected an appeal for permission to develop a new coal mine since it was the ‘wrong time’ for coal. (Image: Takver via flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)

“…the GHG [Greenhouse Gas] emissions of the coal mine and its coal product will increase global total concentrations of GHGs at a time when what is now urgently needed…is a rapid and deep decrease in GHG emissions,” the court stated (Human Rights Watch). 

The high-pressure system in the Tasman Sea is believed to have blocked the cooler air from reaching the southern regions of the country. Together with a delayed monsoon in the North, it has created the current heatwave in Australia.

What’s really happening?

Climate change is an extremely complex topic spread across multiple scientific fields that range from astronomy and spectroscopy to oceanography. It is easy to come to conclusions, but rather hard to figure out why the climate acts the way it does. Scientists are still trying to piece together evidence for past climatic conditions and have not yet reached any conclusions there either. So future predictions remain all the more mysterious.

There are several models proposed, but climate change has been weaponized by political parties to make way for their agendas, rather than being based solely on scientific facts.

“Environmentalism is a movement that intends to radically change the world regardless of the consequences (at the cost of human lives and severe restrictions on individual freedom). It intends to change humankind, human behavior, the structure of society, the system of values — simply everything!” said former president of the Czech Republic Václav Klaus, an economist, as given in The Epoch Times article on environmentalism.

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