SALT LAKE CITY — It’s cold.
What's going on: Extreme winter weather has frozen much of the Midwest this week. Chicago is experiencing record-breaking cold temperatures at minus 23 degrees. Minnesota is seeing subzero weather across its lakes. It’s a “once-in-a-generation” deep freeze in many areas of the country.
At least six people have reportedly died because of the cold weather, according to BBC News.
All of this has people wondering about climate change and global warming.
President Donald Trump, for example, commented on the matter. Trump has long been a skeptic of global warming, according to Vox.
- “In the beautiful Midwest, windchill temperatures are reaching minus 60 degrees, the coldest ever recorded. In coming days, expected to get even colder. People can’t last outside even for minutes. What the hell is going on with Global Waming? Please come back fast, we need you!”
But: Experts advise that the cold snap doesn’t debunk global warming, according to NBC News.
- “A cold snap in the teeth of global warming is no more unusual than a cool day in summer. Both happen,” Ben Strauss, CEO and chief scientist at Climate Central, a science education nonprofit, told NBC News. “It's a bit like opening the freezer door — it cools you off if you stand there, but it tells you nothing about whether someone is turning up the room thermostat.”
Michael E. Mann, a professor of atmospheric science at Penn State, told NBC News that the long-term trend of temperatures is in favor of global warming.
- “We ARE seeing an increase in record heat, and we are NOT seeing an increase in record cold,” he wrote in an email to NBC News. “The trend is in exactly the direction we would expect as a result of a warming planet. Over the past decade in the U.S., we have broken high temperature records TWICE as often as cold temperature records.”
Gavin Schmidt, a climate scientist who serves as director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said this stretch of cold shouldn’t distract you from the trend.35 comments on this story
- “The basics — it’s getting warmer on average, there are more anomalous highs than anomalous lows and there is more intense rainfall — covers 90 percent of the cases,” he said.
A simple answer: CNN puts it rather simply, “Weather is what happens today. Climate is what happens over the long run.”
- And then there’s NASA’s explanation: “Weather is what conditions of the atmosphere are over a short period of time, and climate is how the atmosphere ‘behaves’ over relatively long periods of time.”
Read more: The New York Times reported that Australia is suffering separate weather extremes.