Despite recent cool Iowa temps, Global Warming issue remains

Our View

As the coming winter months collide with contentious climate change debates, it is more than likely that on bitter cold days, you will hear the one-liner, “So much for global warming!” However, anyone aware of the science of climate change understands the difference between one cold day in one spot of the globe and the worldwide warming trend that has been occurring over the last two decades. Scientists refer to short-term local phenomena as “weather,” and long-term global patterns as “climate.”

One does not predict a baseball team’s postseason prospects based on the results of one game or a president’s approval rating by polling a single town. Likewise, the statistics modelers apply in climate models are taken from extensive time series of average temperatures collected from around the world. In the process, outliers exhibited as weather extremities get averaged out.

Anyone who doubts the globe is warming needs to take an objective look at the facts. Global temperatures have been directly measured since 1880, and the 10 warmest years since then have all occurred since 1997. Satellite images of the North Pole show that summer sea ice in the Arctic Ocean has shrunk 40 percent in the last 30 years, and the ocean will be completely ice-free in summer by 2030. And what about the cold Iowa summer we just experienced? If you check the NASA database, you will find that globally the summer of 2009 matched 2005 as the warmest summer ever recorded.

Making generalizations about overall climate trends from one cold winter morning in Iowa would be laughable were climate change not such a serious and threatening issue. We hope that people will research current climate trends and speak up and challenge ill-informed, ignorant remarks that try to diminish its seriousness.

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