‘Snowpocalypse’ does not disprove global warming theories

By Lauren Kelly

Two massive blizzards hit the northeastern United States in the first weeks of February and wreaked havoc on the region, resulting in closures of schools, roads and government operations. The multiple feet of snow sparked conservatives and global warming skeptics to publicly question the validity of claims that our planet is heating up.

Right-wing pundits such as Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh made snide comments on their programs that belittled scientists, activists and government officials who believe global warming is real.

Even billionaire Donald Trump offered his opinion on the matter, suggesting that the Nobel Committee take away former Vice President Al Gore’s Nobel Peace Prize that was awarded to increase public knowledge regarding man-made climate change.

According to the Washington Post, Trump said, “With the coldest winter ever recorded, with snow setting record levels up and down the coast, the Nobel committee should take the Nobel Prize back from Al Gore.”

In one particularly offensive media stunt, the family of Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) built a 6-foot-tall igloo on Capitol Hill with a cardboard sign reading “Al Gore’s new home,” according to a Feb. 10 New York Times article.

However, the “snowpocalypse,” as many call the storm, does not negate or disprove global warming. The fact that right-wing conservatives used the event to attack scientists and believers in global warming illustrates how ignorant they are of what climate change actually is.

People on both sides of the debate should note that short-term weather patterns are not the same as climate. Weather describes the day-to-day fluctuations in temperature, precipitation, humidity and wind levels, while climate describes the overall patterns of weather systems measured over a period of multiple decades or centuries.

The extreme blizzard that hit the northeast was just one weather event that adds to our understanding of the climate. In fact, the massive storm may very well be an indicator, along with other sporadic and rare weather patterns across the world, that the climate is in a state of upheaval and rapid change. However, we can’t be sure until more time passes and meteorologists and climate experts collect more data.

Therefore, instead of using the term “global warming,” we should refer to the process affecting our planet as “climate change.” This term more accurately describes what is happening to the global weather systems. It is clear that the weather on Earth is growing more chaotic, unpredictable and severe than it was in past decades. This may indicate an underlying shift in overall climate as a result of human activities. But not all regions will experience a noticeable increase in temperature. Some regions will see more precipitation and flooding, while others will see a decrease in the variety of plant and animal species.

But no matter what we call it, the evidence leads scientists to believe the Earth’s climate is changing, likely due to human actions. Every action has a reaction and the actions of humans seem to result in a changing climate.

Many people say the actions of humans hurt the planet, but that’s not necessarily correct. We are merely altering the earth’s environment, and as a result, hurting the living species that have evolved to function in its specific climate. The Earth will right itself, but the real question is whether humans and other animals will live through the changes and emerge on the other side with new evolutionary features to help us adapt to the new climate we forced into existence.

Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh can make fun of people who care enough about the future of humanity to try to make a difference, but they won’t be laughing when climate change continues to escalate, forcing humans to evolve or perish.