US government scientists correct Trump over climate change statements: 'Winter storms don't prove global warming isn't happening'

President's outburst follows number of recent tweets gleefully disregarding scientific consensus

Tom Embury-Dennis,Chris Riotta
Tuesday 29 January 2019 18:36 GMT
Donald Trump says he ‘doesn’t believe’ his own administration’s report on climate change

Donald Trump has again appeared to fundamentally misunderstand climate change by suggesting extreme cold weather in the US is evidence global warming does not exist.

“In the beautiful Midwest, wind chill temperatures are reaching minus 60 degrees, the coldest ever recorded,” Mr Trump tweeted late on Monday evening.

“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 (sic)? Please come back fast, we need you!” he added sarcastically.

Experts were quickly forced to correct the president online, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a government research agency which simply tweeted the statement, “Winter storms don’t prove global warming isn’t happening.”

It follows a number of recent tweets by the president expressing gleeful disregard for the scientific consensus that holds human carbon emissions responsible for recent global temperature increases.

Earlier this month, Mr Trump tweeted the US would benefit from “a little of that good old fashioned Global Warming right now” amid forecasts of snow, and he also made the same joke in November following a bout of cold weather.

Although it would appear Mr Trump believes the conspiracy theory of climate denial – he once claimed climate change was a Chinese hoax intended to hurt American exports – his repetition of the same gag suggests he is attempting to play to his base while also riling his political opponents.

His latest outburst is a reference to a polar vortex currently moving through the Midwest, blasting much of the country with sub-zero temperatures and arctic winds.

Chicago will take the main brunt of the super cold weather, the weather service said, with wind chills as low as -46C expected by Tuesday evening through to Thursday morning.

Forecasters said "dangerous, life-threatening cold air" will hit Iowa from Tuesday morning through to Friday morning, with wind chill on Wednesday triggering temperatures as low as -48C across the northern part of the state.

Despite Mr Trump’s scepticism, climate scientists say global warming makes extreme weather events of all kinds more likely.

Although there is no consensus if this year’s polar vortex – caused by a sudden blast of warm air in the Arctic pushing chilly temperatures south - is directly caused by manmade climate change, it is not evidence against the phenomenon.

Responding to Mr Trump on Twitter, Jonathan Foley, an environmental scientist at the California Academy of Sciences, said: "You knew this was going to happen. It’s cold in less than 1% of the planet for a few days, so the long term warming and destabilization of a planet’s entire climate system must not be true.

"In related news, Trump had a Big Mac today, so there is no such thing as global hunger."

Of the polar vortex, Jennifer Francis, a climate scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center, said: “It’s a complicated story that involves a hefty dose of chaos and an interplay among multiple influences, so extracting a clear signal of the Arctic’s role is challenging."

Several recent papers, however, have made the case for a connection, she added.

“This symptom of global warming is counterintuitive for those in the cross-hairs of these extreme cold spells. But these events provide an excellent opportunity to help the public understand some of the ‘interesting’ ways that climate change will unfold.”

Additional reporting by Reuters

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