Climatically Speaking: "The Daily Show"Imparts Some Global Warming Humor

Icebergs, Photo by Ghost Presenter from  Pexels

Icebergs, Photo by Ghost Presenter from Pexels

Last edited February 24, 2019

Ratio of heat records to cold records; the 35 all-time heat records of early 2019; remembering colder U.S. winters (do you?); the science behind polar vortex events, the jet stream and Arctic warming; Trump’s wall—in Ireland; the politics of thermometers; and some global warming humor from “The Daily Show.”


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When the polar vortex retreated to the Arctic last week, I tagged along. I wasn’t done with it yet. So in today’s post, I’ll share a few more insights on recent cold snaps, comparing them to past winter trends, along with a hilarious video clip from “The Daily Show” on how cold weather doesn’t disprove global warming. Welcome!

winters used to be colder

In an opinion piece at the Guardian, climate scientist Michael Mann reminds us that,

“So far, in the first months of 2019, two all-time cold records were set—in towns in Illinois.”

That’s in contrast to 35 all-time heat records set during the same time frame, many of those occurring in Australia. It’s important to note, too, that Mann is referring to all-time records, not the 680 cold temperature records—based on shorter time frames—I referred to in my most recent post.

In fact, winters used to be a lot colder. Though you have to be old enough—ahem—to have experienced them. And something else I learned from Mann’s article is that if Earth weren’t warming, the ratio of heat records to cold records would be one to one. Over the last ten years, the ratio has been two to one: two heat records for every cold one.

Polar vortex events and a warming arctic

If I seem obsessed with rising Arctic temperatures, the jet stream and the polar vortex, well, I am. Climate science is fascinating! But since I don’t want to harp on the subject and drive you away, I’ll leave it to Mann to explain the science—this time. Sigh. An important takeaway message, though, is this: Even if extreme cold snaps in parts of the U.S. and Europe were occurring more often, that wouldn’t disprove climate change. These extreme cold snaps, in fact, could be a symptom of it.

Does Trump really deny climate change?

As Mann notes in the Guardian story, Trump may claim to deny climate science, but he’s building a sea wall in Ireland to protect his resort; and Trump used sea-level rise, due to global warming, to justify it—at least in his original application. Though in his second request, he removed all references to climate change. So, which is it? And why would Trump pretend to deny climate change? Mann’s story at the Guardian explores possible answers to these questions. It’s an excellent read.

Global temperatures don’t care about politics

Granted, it’s possible I’ve offended some readers by bringing up Trump, because in today’s divisive political climate, many people try to frame climate change as only a liberal issue. Yet, in an essay at Foreign Policy, climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe writes:

“A thermometer isn’t Democratic or Republican. It doesn’t give us a different number depending on how we vote. And climate change isn’t a liberal or conservative issue. It’s a human issue.”

Hayhoe is also an evangelical Christian. But in an interview with Leah Fessler at Quartz, we learn that she is not only passionate about communicating climate science but also unwavering in her desire to help women gain equal ground in science and in the workplace.

global warming humor from “The Daily Show”

Now for that video I promised: Ronny Chieng’s frustration is palpable—some much-needed-global-warming comic relief.

That’s all for today. But I would like to reassure you that in the next edition of Climatically Speaking, I promise not to utter a word about the polar vortex. The jet stream, however, is still on the table. Never mind all that, we’ll take a break from winter and head down to the Southern Hemisphere for a change in scenery. —Laura

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