The One Video to Shut Down All of the Climate-Change Deniers

Weather experts explain why you’re freezing in the polar vortex — and what it means for global warming.

National Journal
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Reena Flores
Jan. 30, 2014, 8:34 a.m.

Some­where in Michigan, a lake is frozen.

And Dr. Jeff Mas­ters, the Weath­er Un­der­ground‘s king of cli­mate nerds, stands atop the ice try­ing to ex­plain to cli­mate den­iers: Yes, it’s cold this winter. No, that doesn’t mean glob­al warm­ing is a lib­er­al con­spir­acy.

“If There’s Glob­al Warm­ing “¦ Why Is It So Cold?” is a video for the Yale For­um‘s “This Is Not Cool” series, and it does an ex­cel­lent job break­ing down why what may seem like an av­er­age cold snap might ac­tu­ally be an alarm­ing symp­tom of glob­al warm­ing.

In fact, ex­plains Mas­ters to his You­Tube audi­ence, there’s a lot more to the freez­ing tem­per­at­ures than your phone’s weath­er app might be able to tell you.

Arc­tic air doesn’t usu­ally travel in a loop, ex­perts say, but in an un­usu­al phe­nomen­on this year, the freez­ing jet stream spilled south­ward in a spir­al out of Canada. The res­ult? Pock­ets of extemely cold air in places like Michigan, and un­season­ably warm tem­per­at­ures in states like Wash­ing­ton.

But the me­dia isn’t al­ways so keen on elab­or­ate sci­entif­ic ex­plan­a­tions or ana­lyses of glob­al air-flow pat­terns.

Ac­cord­ing to Peter Sin­clair, the in­de­pend­ent video­graph­er in charge of pro­du­cing the monthly Yale video series, news net­works are ir­re­spons­ible in their weath­er cov­er­age.

“Whenev­er we have one of these cold snaps, we hear: ‘Oh my god! It’s cold. How can there be cli­mate change?’ Sin­clair says.

The video in­cludes a few out­rageous clips from broad­cast news, in­clud­ing Rush Limbaugh’s ac­cus­a­tion that the me­dia cre­ated the po­lar vor­tex to “at­tach it to the glob­al-warm­ing agenda.”

It’s a main­stream nar­rat­ive that dis­reg­ards the real­ity faced by sev­er­al states, in­clud­ing Cali­for­nia’s ex­treme drought this winter.

Says Sin­clair: “It’s easy for dis-in­form­ers and mis­in­form­ers to hood­wink the un­wary, and this video is sup­posed to be a rem­edy for that.”