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AP FACT CHECK: Global warming hasn’t gone away despite cold

January 29, 2019
President Donald Trump waves as he walks through the Colonnade from the Oval Office of the White House on arrival to announce a deal to temporarily reopen the government, Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, from the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON (AP) — In the midst of a Midwest cold spell, President Donald Trump is pleading for global warming to come back, but it never went away.

Just like the Arctic air invading parts of the U.S. because of wandering pieces of the polar vortex, Earth’s warmth appears a bit temporarily displaced.

But scientific reports issued by the Trump administration and outside climate scientists contradict Trump’s suggestion that global warming can’t exist if it’s cold outside.

A look at his Monday night tweet:

TRUMP: “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 (sic)? Please come back fast, we need you!”

THE FACTS: While the Midwest is in the grip of a chill that’s likely to set records, Earth is still considerably warmer than it was 30 years ago and especially 100 years ago.

The lower 48 states make up only 1.6 percent of the globe and five western states are warmer than normal. The Earth as a whole — and it is global warming, not U.S. warming — on Tuesday is 0.54 degrees (0.3 degrees Celsius) warmer than the 1979 to 2000 average and 1.6 degrees warmer than it was on average about 100 years ago, according to data from the University of Maine’s Climate Reanalyzer and NASA.

“This is simply an extreme weather event and not representative of global scale temperature trends,” said Northern Illinois University climate scientist Victor Gensini, who is in the midst of some of the worst subfreezing cold. “The exact opposite is happening in Australia right now.”

Australia is broiling with triple-digit heat that is setting records opposite the Midwest. Adelaide last week was 115.9 degrees (46.6 Celsius), setting the record for the highest temperature ever set by a major Australian city.

Trump is cherry picking cold weather to ignore the larger picture of a warming planet, said John Cook, a professor of climate change communications at George Mason University.

“This myth is like arguing that nighttime proves the sun doesn’t exist,” Cook said.

As far as how it affects people, Trump’s own administration released a scientific report last year saying that while human-caused climate change will reduce cold weather deaths “in 49 large cities in the United States, changes in extreme hot and extreme cold temperatures are projected to result in more than 9,000 additional premature deaths per year” by the end of this century if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at recent rates.

Even with global warming, winter, snowstorms and cold weather will continue to exist, say scientists and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration . That’s because Trump is conflating weather and climate. Weather is like mood, which is fleeting. Climate is like personality, which is long term and over large areas the size of continents, hemispheres and the planet.

“In a warming world, you’re still going to have unusually hot and unusually cold events happening in a particular part of the world,” said Berkeley Earth climate scientist Zeke Hausfather. “Weather is not going away.”

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