Conservative media outlets have used recent winter storms in Washington, DC, as an excuse to forward attacks against former Vice President Al Gore and climate science. In fact, winter snow on the east coast of the United States does not disprove the scientific consensus that global warming is real.
WSJ, Hill forward GOP attacks on Gore, climate science
WSJ: Inhofe's daughter built igloo “bearing signs saying 'Al Gore's New Home' and 'Honk if you [heart] Global Warming.' ” From a February 11 Wall Street Journal article:
The daughter and grandchildren of Oklahoma Republican James Inhofe, the Senate's most outspoken climate-change skeptic, built an igloo a snowball's throw from the Capitol, bearing signs saying “Al Gore's New Home” and “Honk if you [heart] Global Warming.”
Mr. Inhofe's daughter, Molly Rapert, said the signs were an afterthought and she regretted that anyone would think it was “an assault on some serious issue.” Mr. Gore's office didn't respond to calls for comment.
Others also made hay over the contrast between the snow and the global-warming issue. The Virginia GOP ran ads against Reps. Tom Perriello and Rick Boucher, two conservative Democrats who support legislation to make industries pay for their emissions. “Tell them how much global warming you get this weekend.... Maybe they'll come help you shovel,” the ads said.
The Center for American Progress, an Obama-friendly think tank led by former Clinton chief of staff John Podesta, canceled its discussion on “The Global Implications of Climate Migration,” due to the blizzard.
Hill: DeMint “used the D.C. snowstorm to make a political jab, saying that it provides evidence for global warming skeptics.” A February 9 article in The Hill headlined “Climate-change legislation buried under record snowfall in capital” stated:
Record snowfall has buried Washington -- and along with it, buried the chances of passing global warming legislation this year.
Cars are stranded in banks of snow along the streets of the federal capital, and in the corridors of Congress, climate legislation also has been put on ice.
Voters are mostly concerned with jobs and the economy. Global warming is at the bottom of their list. And now, on top of that, the paralyzing snowfalls have made the prospect of winning support for a climate bill this year even less likely.
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) on Tuesday used the D.C. snowstorm to make a political jab, saying that it provides evidence for global warming skeptics.
“It's going to keep snowing in DC until Al Gore cries ” uncle," the conservative Senator tweeted on Twitter.
For critics, it was an opportunity to poke fun at the issue's most prominent advocate.
“Where's Al Gore when we need him?” quipped Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), who burst out laughing when asked about the prospect of passing cap-and-trade legislation Tuesday while the city was still digging out.
Right-wing media run with climate-science attacks
Fox News buries Gore under avalanche of global warming misinformation. Fox News' website The Fox Nation and Fox News personalities Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Gretchen Carlson, Steve Doocy, Stuart Varney, and Eric Bolling all used the DC snow storm to attack Gore or the science supporting global warming. Indeed, on the February 10 edition of Fox News' Your World, Bolling showed an image of Gore's book, An Inconvenient Truth, being buried in snow.
New York Post suggests DeMint is right that snow “must be a sign from God” about existence of global warming. From a February 11 New York Post editorial:
If, like everyone else from New England to Virginia, you spent the last 24 hours watching the global warming fall from the sky, you may agree that Sen. Jim DeMint could be on to something.
The South Carolina Republican took to the Twitter-sphere to declare that the region's second major blizzard in less than a week must be a sign from God.
That is, he said, “It's going to keep snowing . . . until Al Gore cries 'Uncle!' ”
Limbaugh, Wash. Times join in blizzard of global warming misinformation. Rush Limbaugh called the east coast blizzard the “nail in the coffin to the whole global warming thing” and asked: “Where's Al Gore?” Additionally, In a February 8 editorial headlined, “Snowmageddon is nigh,” The Washington Times asserted that reports of more snow blanketing D.C., “must send chills up the spines of global warming adherents, for whom this winter has been marked by discontent.” The editorial later added: “Those who value freedom should thank Mother Nature for her sense of humor, undermining the case for global warming one flake at a time. So although we're quite tired of shoveling, we say, 'Bring on the blizzard.' ”
Right-wing bloggers pile on. A post by Publius -- the pseudonym of the Andrew Breitbart-published website BigGovernment.com's “Editorial Panel” -- stated: “Yesterday, President Obama announced his plan to create a new federal agency tasked with climate change. Later that day, the National Weather Service announced that DC was due to receive another 10-20 inches of snow today. (On top of the 2 1/2 feet of snow over the weekend.) Now THAT is some climate change.” In addition, referring to the east coast blizzard as one of the “cold hard facts on the ground,” Gateway Pundit's Jim Hoft offered up to $10,000 for people who can get anti-science signs on TV." Furthermore, in a February 8 post on RedState.com, Erick Erickson wrote:
There are thirty inches of snow in Washington, DC. Here in Macon, Georgia, an area global warming scientists have long predicted would become a desert, we are 24 inches into a rain surplus in the past 365 calendar days.
You know what this all means right? We need a new federal agency to “study and report on the changing climate.”
Local weather phenomena do not disprove scientific consensus that global warming is real
Cold weather in winter does not disprove global warming. In a March 2, 2008, article, The New York Times reported that climate scientists -- including at least one who has disputed aspects of the scientific consensus on climate change -- completely reject the notion that short-term changes in weather bear any relevance to the climate debate. The article quoted Gavin Schmidt, a climate modeler at NASA saying: “It's all in the long-term trends. Weather isn't going to go away because of climate change.”
2000-2009 was the warmest decade on record. In January, major meteorological organizations throughout the world -- including NASA -- released reports showing that the past decade, 2000-2009, was the warmest on record. The reports undermine the right-wing media's numerous claims that recent snow and cold weather show climate change does not exist or has slowed over the past 10 years.
IPCC: “There is very high confidence that the net effect of human activities since 1750 has been one of warming.” In its most recent "Synthesis Report," the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded:
There is very high confidence that the net effect of human activities since 1750 has been one of warming.
Most of the observed increase in globally-averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic GHG (greenhouse gases) concentrations. It is likely there has been significant anthropogenic warming over the past 50 years averaged over each continent (except Antarctica). [italics in original]
The authors of the IPCC report stated that the phrase “very high confidence” translates to an “at least 9 out of 10” chance of being correct, and “very likely” translates to greater than 90 percent probability.
It snowed in DC, but it's hot in Rio. Further illustrating the absurdity of the argument that the DC snow storm disproves global warming, while it was snowing on the east coast of the United States, Rio de Janeiro is reportedly suffering through a “historic” heat wave. According to the Agence France Press, "[t]he worst heatwave to hit Rio de Janeiro in 50 years turned the city into a pre-Carnival furnace Wednesday, and killed 32 elderly people further south, officials said. According to the Inmet national weather service, recorded temperatures in Rio were well above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees) -- and felt more like above 50 degrees." Additionally, according to numerous news outlets, Vancouver, British Columbia, the location of the 2010 Winter Olympics has been hit by unseasonably warm weather, causing a massive effort to move snow to freestyle skiing events sites. From The New York Times:
On Tuesday, organizers gave the news media their first look at Cypress Mountain, the site of the snowboarding and freestyle skiing events, with hopes of allaying concerns about a lack of snow and unseasonably warm weather endangering the competitions. But officials kept the snowboarding halfpipe off limits, citing safety concerns. The mountain looked as if it were under military siege, not an Olympic site days from competition.
The Olympic plans at Cypress were undercut by the warmest January on record, which kept snowmaking to a minimum. According to Environment Canada, the average temperature this year was 7.2 degrees Celsius (45 Fahrenheit), when it normally is 3.3 C (38). From Dec. 1 to Jan. 31, the area received 79 percent of its usual precipitation, but most of it was rain.