Yes, it’s really cold-No this isn’t evidence of global cooling

North America, Europe and even India are experiencing bitter cold waves.  It was -9C when I got up this this morning.  But is this evidence that global warming has ended or that the earth is cooling?

1:00 PM GMT on January 05, 2010

You’d think so reading some articles in the media:

Like this article “Indian Cold wave in 2010 could be proof of the fallacy of global warming” from Charlotte Spirituality & Health Examiner Allen Bethea (who better to pen an article on climate trends). Allen writes:

Just weeks after a statement of intent from the nations meeting in Copenhagen pledging to work to prevent global warming, the BBC,  and the Hindustan Times and other news outlets are reporting a record cold snap across northern India.  One source says that over 40 people have died from the cold.

The Copenhagen Summit (officially called The 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference) decided that it was imperative the nations work to reduce any increase in global temperature to under 2 °C.

The science of global warming is an example of an indefeasible position. It is immune to logic, empirical data, history, and common sense. Lets hope that in 2010, we as a race grow in wisdom and discernment, and the ability to recognize fallacies when we hear them, no matter how authoritative the source.

And this article from The Business and Media Institute (Advancing the Culture of Free Enterprise in America!): “Hot Weather Convinces Media of Climate Change; Cold Weather Ignored”

From 2003 heat wave that killed thousands, to melting Peruvian glaciers the news media find examples of global warming. The news media constantly misuse extreme weather examples to generate fear of global warming,

Which is true.

but when record cold or record snow sets in journalists don’t mention the possibility of global cooling trends. While climatologists would say weather isn’t necessarily an indication of climate, it has been in the media, but only when the weather could be spun as part of global warming.  Despite such extreme cold around the world, the three networks are not forecasting a period of global cooling.

Perhaps because they know that very short term cold weather (i.e., a week or less) is, well, weather and what we are talking about is climate change, i.e., changes over decades to centuries.

Joe Romm has a funny article up titled “Looks like I am going on FoxNews today because it’s cold outside”:

You can’t deny it’s cold outside in Washington, DC today — any more than you can deny the planet is unequivocally warming and humans are probably the cause of most of that warming, can you?  I mean, the fact that it’s cold in early January isn’t news.  It’s the friggin’ winter!

Oh wait, you say we’re setting records for cold over parts of the country.  But if you accept the temperature station data going back over a century that says we’re setting records for cold over a small part of the globe over a short period of time, then you have to accept this very same data over the entire globe over a long period of time, no?

Check out the article on the “It’s freaking cold!” crock on SkepticalScience here, our own past post on this here, and Peter Sinclair’s video it below:


7 thoughts on “Yes, it’s really cold-No this isn’t evidence of global cooling

  1. So far I’ve seen very little explanation of the current cold weather in the Northern Hemisphere which convinces me that it is part of globally warm conditions and not a return to cold. I fully understand that the overall trend is warming. I come from Australia where our Bureau of Meteorology has just announced that 2009 was one of the warmest years on record here. Are we going to get the same result world wide? How come the year has ended and the overall figures for the world are still at the printers?
    In attempting to understand the process, I have offered the following explanation, but I’m not a climate scientist so I would appreciate some advice. Am I on the right track or totally off beam?

    Can we use a wave of snow storms in one Northern Hemisphere winter to prove that the world has cooled overall for ten years? The total cooling has been marginal at most, and very probably an illusion, given the fact that the latest decade 2000 -09 was warmer on aggregate than the one before. Snow storms, which involve huge amounts of precipitation, have their origin in warm air collecting vast quantities of evaporated water (steam) from above the oceans and dumping it on the land. That isn’t the result of cold, or the absence of heat energy, quite the opposite. During a recent summer storm in Brisbane Queensland, after a stinking hot day, so much hail and rain fell on the city that the temperature dropped ten degrees in less than an hour. Was that a case of global cooling? Probably only the most insensible denialist would claim it. Precipitation, whether it is rain, hail or snow, comes from the cold upper atmosphere. As it falls it cools the ground and the lower atmosphere. Now, reconsidering the widespread snow storms, it was winter, after all, climate change really doesn’t mean winter disappears, does it? Lots of latent heat entered the upper atmosphere when the water vapour froze, lots of warmth was sucked out of the ground and lower atmophere when the snow reached the ground. Overall a large shift of heat energy from the surface to the upper atmosphere. Then what?

  2. ‘Like this article “Indian Cold wave in 2010 could be proof of the fallacy of global warming” from Charlotte Spirituality & Health Examiner Allen Bethea (who better to pen an article on climate trends).’


    Hey I am not a Luddite. I have a BS in Pharmacy from UNC-CH, where you teach. I graduated in 1981. I have a few associate degrees since then (Information science, Mechanical Engineering) but no advanced degrees.

    I am not a climatologist, nor a professional researcher, but I do have respect for science and the scientific method.

    I guess with my training with drug therapy I learn to pay more attention to signs and symptoms than scientific certitudes. If there are no obvious signs of global warming, then perhaps there is no global warming.

    Allen Bethea

  3. Hi Allen,

    Thanks for weighing in your response, but enough of this anti-science nonsense:

    I guess with my training with drug therapy I learn to pay more attention to signs and symptoms than scientific certitudes.

    This is exactly the anti-science rhetoric that is currently plaguing the pediatric autism debate in America at the moment – the “I pay more attention to the symptoms therefore the science must be incorrect”, or “with my limited knowledge and understanding I don’t comprehend what people are saying, so it must be wrong”.

    If there are no obvious signs of global warming, then perhaps there is no global warming.

    I’m sorry, but this logical fallacy does more to highlight your lack of knowledge and understanding of the topic at hand rather than to prove the absence of global warming (but I bet it sells newspapers!)

  4. John S-S, the decade of the zeros was about .19 degrees warmer than the 1990s. This is major warming. The within-decade warming was smaller of course, but still positive. During the zeros the solar sunspot cycle was declining, so the sun was cooling slightly. Now it is warming again. Oh, and we have just had the warmest global January on record.

    You say “…the current cold weather in the Northern Hemisphere….”

    The NH is not cold overall. The Arctic and some areas of the lower 48 US States are unusually warm. Other areas are unusually cold. It’s the wind blowing energy around. The Arctic Oscillation reached a higher negative value than it has in a long time, and the Gulf stream is running a bit farther north. This brings cold and snow to the northeast. Here is some detail.

    Note also that climate models predict more total water vapor in the air and more frequent heavy precipitation in some areas such as the northeast USA.

  5. John S-S, look at the data table here. You will find the the northern hemisphere has been warm this January. And this is a denier site. Don’t say an entire hemisphere is cold because a part of it is. Indeed much of North America is warmer than normal.

  6. Thanks for your help..Duh! I worked it out myself. No-one seems to have read the body of my post in which I mentioned most of the points that you most pedantically read back to me. Sad to see that the other side of the debate can be almost as ignorant as the denialists!

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