Climate-change believers, skeptics battle to explain early wintry weather

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With summer over, climate concerns turn to extreme winter weather; and in the wake of the Eastern seaboard’s early cold snap, some are pointing to global warming as the cause of the unseasonable wintry mix.

In Philadelphia, following the recent Northeast snowstorm, Glenn “Hurricane” Schwartz, NBC 10’s chief meteorologist, chalked up the last three years’ extreme weather to global warming.

“So, the ONLY reasonable explanation is that ‘global warming’ is having some effect on this extreme weather,” Schwartz wrote Friday. “Computer models (and simple meteorological logic) have shown for a long time that higher carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere would lead to more heat and more water vapor. I even believe our record October snowstorm is more evidence of global warming rather than the opposite, which would seem more logical.”

NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams also speculated that the winter weather was a part of climate change.

“Everybody out east said the same thing about this freak snowstorm: ‘This kind of thing didn’t used to happen, This never happened before.’” Williams said prior to a segment on the accuracy of climate change reports. “And while that is true, it may also be true that we’ll all have to start getting used to this kind of thing over the long haul.”

The Associated Press reported last week that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will soon issue a report concluding that there is a two-thirds chance that man-made global warming is already creating “climate extremes.”

“The extremes are a really noticeable aspect of climate change,” Jerry Meehl, senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, told the Associated Press. “I think people realize that the extremes are where we are going to see a lot of the impacts of climate change.”

But the IPCC says climate change did not cause last month’s wintry surprise.

Weather Channel co-founder Joe D’Aleo is a noted global warming skeptic. He told The Daily Caller that recent weather extremes are largely a function of natural factors, including sun and ocean cycles and high-latitude volcanoes.

“[W]e forecast the recent record snows, droughts, floods, tornadoes and a landfalling hurricane on the East Coast weeks to months in advance based on those natural factors,” he explained. “We had similar conditions and extremes in the early 1800s, early 1900s, 1930s-1960s. The last few decades were benign because of the opposite states of these same factors.”

Meteorologist Art Horn, another global warming skeptic, said that in the past few years La Niña, a pattern of low solar activity and high pressure areas, has had a large effect on weather. “Extreme,” he said, is a subjective term that reflects more on the people making the claims than on any actual weather event.

“The weather is more active at times and less active at other times,” Horn told TheDC. “The claim that the October snowstorm was caused by global warming says more about the lack of historical knowledge of past weather events by the person making the claim than it does anything else.”

D’Aleo added that computer models of the greenhouse effect have not been accurately forecasting the actual emerging data.

“Greenhouse computer models are failing on every count — they forecast warming winters — the last decade the US winter temperatures have cooled 4.13F,” he wrote in an email. “[S]ea level rises accelerating — they have fallen the last two years. See NOAA NCDC data analyzed here; they forecast building ocean heat content especially in the tropics (the heat content has not increased).”

“They forecasted an atmospheric hot spot over the low and middle latitudes in the atmosphere. It is not there,” D’Aleo added.

Former NASA scientist and University of Alabama in Huntsville climatologist Roy Spencer took issue with “Hurricane” Schwartz’s characterization of the winter storm as a function of global warming.

“His claims are just plain silly, for two reasons. First, he’s like a person who just won the lottery, claiming, ‘The chance of winning is microscopically small! The whole world must be winning the lottery!’ Well, unusual weather somewhere in the world is pretty common.

“Secondly, there is no way for more snowstorms and colder winters to be part of global warming theory, which predicts just the opposite.”

According to Spencer, Philadelphia has been experiencing natural climate variability which is likely a function of natural climate phenomena and “plain old bad luck.”

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