However, while the Midwest is in the grip of a chill that’s likely to set records, the earth is still considerably warmer than it was 30 years ago and especially 100 years ago.
The lower 48 US states make up only 1.6 per cent of the globe and five western states are warmer than normal. The earth as a whole – and it is global warming, not US warming – on Tuesday was 0.3 degrees Celsius warmer than the 1979 to 2000 average and 1.6 degrees warmer than it was on average about 100 years ago, according to data from the University of Maine’s Climate Reanalyzer and NASA.
“This is simply an extreme weather event and not representative of global scale temperature trends,” said Northern Illinois University climate scientist Victor Gensini, who is in the midst of some of the worst cold. “The exact opposite is happening in Australia right now.”
Australia is broiling in heat that is setting records opposite the Midwest. Adelaide last week was 46.6 degrees Celsius, setting the record for the highest temperature ever set by a major Australian city.
Trump is cherry-picking cold weather to ignore the larger picture of a warming planet, said John Cook, a professor of climate change communications at George Mason University.
“This myth is like arguing that nightime proves the sun doesn’t exist,” Cook said.
As far as how it affects people, Trump’s own administration released a scientific report last year saying that while human-caused climate change will reduce cold weather deaths “in 49 large cities in the United States, changes in extreme hot and extreme cold temperatures are projected to result in more than 9000 additional premature deaths per year” by the end of this century if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at recent rates.
Even with global warming, winter, snowstorms and cold weather will continue to exist, say scientists and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Trump is conflating weather and climate. Weather is like mood, which is fleeting. Climate is like personality, which is long term and over large areas the size of continents, hemispheres and the planet.
“In a warming world, you’re still going to have unusually hot and unusually cold events happening in a particular part of the world,” said Berkeley Earth climate scientist Zeke Hausfather. “Weather is not going away.”