As opinions about climate change swirl with the chilling winds and snow drifts that have set in throughout the United States this week, the White House has set out to disprove global warming naysayers who see the recent frigid temperatures as a sign that popular science is wrong.
The Obama administration released a two-minute video Wednesday in which President Obama’s science adviser, John Holdren, tells Americans, “If you’ve been hearing that extreme cold spells, like the one we’re having in the United States now, disproves global warming, don’t believe it.”
Buzzfeed reports that the administration is also planning an online “We The Geeks” session, moderated by officials from the Office of Science and Technology Policy and featuring climate experts like Jason Samenow, Weather Editor at the Washington Post, and Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd, President of the American Meteorological Society and Professor, among other top meteorologists, climatologists, and researchers.
Skeptics from Donald Trump to Rush Limbaugh to Rep. John Fleming (R-Louisiana) have been quick to label the cold weather snap another reason that global warming is a hoax. Climate change believers and environmentalists have been equally quick on the defense, explaining in Time, the Weather Channel, the Washington Post, and other news outlets that the recent lows actually prove, not debunk, global warming.
The science goes that greenhouse gases have raised the overall temperature of the earth, causing the polar ice caps to melt and increasing the rate of warming in the Arctic, because open water absorbs more sunlight where ice used to reflect it. As global warming accelerates, the jet stream that separates cold Arctic air from the more temperate climes to the south is weakened. “Dips” in the jet stream let Arctic air get through to to the southern latitudes. That’s what Americans are currently experiencing as they rush to don their Northface jackets and shovel out their driveways.
“Polar vortex” promises to become an even buzzier buzzword as the White House gets in on the debate, which you can watch here at 2 p.m. EST on Friday.