If it seems like I’m obsessed with the weather, it’s because I am. Curt and I went on a CANOE RIDE yesterday. In New England, in January. (The blog header shows what the same lake looked like a year ago.) But rest easy everyone, because the New York Times’s Maria Newman wrote yesterday that the unseasonably warm weather in the Northeast is not due to global warming:
Some people in the Northeast think global warming may be responsible for the unseasonably warmer conditions across a large part of the country, from the northern Plains to the East Coast.
But meteorologists say that just because it’s practically shirt-sleeve weather in this part of the country doesn’t mean it’s balmy all over. In Louisiana, two people were killed by tornadoes on Thursday, and residents are still cleaning up debris. And in the Rockies, still recovering from a blizzard last week, several inches of snow that were expected to fall in the area today, and combined with gusts of up to 40 miles per hour, it could sharply affect visibility.
“Global warming is a misnomer,” said John Cristantello, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Upton forecast office in New York. “Everybody likes to blurt out those words.
“Just because it’s warm in one area doesn’t mean it’s not cold in another area,” he said.
The reporter doesn’t even frame the debate correctly. To imply that the cause of the warm weather in the Northeast isn’t global warming because the Plains are getting cold temperatures & snow is somewhat uninformed and fairly irresponsible. Of course it’s not global warming–that’s common vernacular, but the preferred scientific term is “climate change,” not “global warming.”
What if the reporter had asked the meterologists her questions based on the correct term of climate change, not global warming? Does that change the conclusion? It certainly makes irrelevant the “but it’s cold in other areas” argument. I don’t care if the paper presents alternative theories to climate change as the cause for the strange weather, but couldn’t the reporter at least present the argument correctly?
So if global warming doesn’t explain it all, what does?
El Niño is part of the reason, meteorologists say. The periodic warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean tends to create milder conditions in this part of the world.
So don’t worry, it’s only El Niño–not climate change, whatchamacallit, global warming, or gosh, whatever it’s called. Goody, I’m not going to worry about it anymore.