Polar Vortex: Global Warming Divides America Over Climate Change Science

When it comes to the polar vortex, global warming has America divided over whether climate change science messed up big time. After all, it seems counter-intuitive that the global temperature average would cause some locations to experience colder-than-usual weather.

As previously reported by The Inquisitr, several years ago NOAA hypothesized that a reduction in Arctic ice and temperature could result in the polar vortex causing cold weather. In contrast, some of the computer models even predict long term stasis or cooling, although the majority definitely favored warming.

To give you an idea how things can vary in the conditions created by the polar vortex, in the past week there were 665 lowest cold records set while 101 locations reported record highs for this time period (my guess is that Florida has some of those). The effects of the polar vortex are only supposed to last until about the middle of this week, but the political effect in the United States may reverberate for some time to come.

As might be expected, Rush Limbaugh, Donald Trump, and Sean Hannity disagree with the various predictions made on behalf of climate change science. But some in the media, including the Huffington Post, claim “this frigid weather is another example of the kind of violent and abrupt climate change that results from global warming.”

Others like Jason Samenow take the stance that global warming is a separate issue from the polar vortex because similar weather conditions “happened before humans dumped billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and will happen again.” Some reports also point out how the last time the polar vortex caused such drastically cold weather was in the 1980s and also how 2013 set record hot temperatures in Australia.

But what does the science say? Regardless of NOAA’s hypothesis related to air temperature and the Arctic ice extent, studies from 2009 and 2010 doubt the ability of computer models to determine if climate change and the break up of a polar vortex are related:

“Clearly, if CCMs [chemistry climate models] cannot duplicate the observed response of the polar stratosphere to late 20th century climate forcings, their ability to simulate the polar vortices in future may be poor.”


“It is unclear how much confidence can be put into the model projections of the vortices given that the models typically only have moderate resolution and that the climatological structure of the vortices in the models depends on the tuning of gravity wave parameterizations.”

The Polar Vortex, Global Warming, And Politics

When it comes to the American public, Pew Research Center found only 28 percent believe “dealing with global warming” is a top priority, which has gone down from 38 percent in 2007. Interestingly enough, even among Democrats the political support for implementing policies based upon global warming has fallen down to 38 percent.

Perhaps because of the doubts many Americans have been expressing, the White House felt it needed to issue a statement:

“We know that no single weather episode proves or disproves climate change. Climate refers to the patterns observed in the weather over time and space — in terms of averages, variations, and probabilities. But we also know that this week’s cold spell is of a type there’s reason to believe may become more frequent in a world that’s getting warmer, on average, because of greenhouse-gas pollution.”

The recent events have also caused some to call for politics to get out science. For example, Patrick J. Michaels, the director of the Center for the Study of Science at the Cato Institute, pointed out how Nobel Prize winner Randy Schekman wrote that science journals like “Nature, Cell, and Science are damaging science” by focusing on publishing manuscripts with the “flashiest” headlines. Michaels believes these type of headlines “compel politicians to disburse more money for more research, ultimately buying a beach house for the doom-saying scientists“:

“This creates horrific effects, especially when the issues are policy-related. Summaries of the scientific literature are used to guide policymakers, but if the published research is biased, then so must be the summaries; leaving policymakers no option – not being scientists themselves – but to embrace what is inevitably touted as ‘the best science.'”

Does the cold weather caused by the polar vortex alter your beliefs about global warming or climate change science? Either way, what do you think should be done about the alleged bias in scientific circles?