Published 9:48 am Thursday, January 9, 2014
Temperatures still climbing despite subzero conditions nationally
Despite a cold snap that seems to be gripping the entire nation, experts like Ohio State University professor Lonnie Thompson want to remind people that the world is still warming.
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“We gave a tendency to think if it’s cold here the world must be getting colder,” Thompson said via a press release. “Well that’s not true. We live on a huge planet. It’s a complex system and that natural variability has always been with us. The longer term trend is toward warming.”
Rock Hill High School teacher Bob McCollister agrees with Thompson’s assessment. McCollister, who teaches history at the school, received an invitation to Chicago last year to become certified in climate change presentations by The Climate Reality Project and its chairman Al Gore.
“Those who argue that this cold spell is proof that global warming is a hoax are silly,” McCollister said. “No one said that winter would cease to exist.”
McCollister points out that while Americans may be experiencing record lows, other parts of the world are currently experiencing record highs.
“In Australia and the Southern Hemisphere they are going through a heat wave,” he said. “Temperatures down there are reaching over 120 degrees. This is about global trends over long periods of time.”
Earlier this year the United Nations released a study providing evidence that the previous decade, which spanned from 2001-2010, was the hottest decade in recorded history. The average worldwide land and sea temperature of 58 degrees surpassed the previous decadal high of 57.2 set in the 1990s.
“And the previous high before that was set in the ‘80s,” McCollister said. “So the evidence points to the fact that our planet is warming up. Ninety-seven percent of the scientific studies that have been published on the subject agree that global warming is very real.
“So there is no scientific debate the global climate is undoubtedly getting warmer. If you were to take all of the scientists who study the climate who don’t subscribe to global warming and put them in my classroom, you’d have a bunch of empty chairs.”
If the evidence is so overwhelming, then why is there such dissention among political candidates and the general public? McCollister says that can be explained by two primary factors.
“Well there are people and companies who have very powerful interest in disproving global warming,” McCollister said. “All these industries that deal with the extraction of fossil fuels, those are powerful companies and global warming is bad for their business.”
The other factor is, McCollister says, that simple human naiveté doesn’t allow people to grasp the long-term weather patterns.
“We as people experience weather on a day-to-day basis,” he said. “It’s really hard for people to break away from that and understand these long running trends. But, look at the evidence. Twelve of the top 15 hottest years on record have happened since 2000.”
Meanwhile the cold front seems to be yielding to warmer temperatures in Lawrence County as well. Local weather forecast from the National Weather Service predicts temperatures to reach or exceed 50 degrees this weekend.