White House Strikes Back at Climate Skeptics Over ‘Polar Vortex’

The Polar Vortex is a whirling and persistent large area of low pressure, found typically over both north and south poles.
National Journal
Ben Geman
Jan. 8, 2014, 1:04 p.m.

White House sci­ence ad­viser John Hold­ren is push­ing back against con­ser­vat­ives who claim the U.S. cold snap shows that glob­al warm­ing isn’t real.

“If you have been hear­ing that ex­treme cold spells, like the one that we are hav­ing in the United States now, dis­prove glob­al warm­ing, don’t be­lieve it,” Hold­ren said in a video the White House cir­cu­lated Wed­nes­day.

In fact, he notes, “a grow­ing body of evid­ence” sug­gests that the type of ex­treme cold the U.S. is ex­per­i­en­cing could be­come more fre­quent as glob­al warm­ing con­tin­ues.

The former Har­vard Uni­versity pro­fess­or’s short video ar­rives as con­ser­vat­ives who deny hu­man-in­duced cli­mate change are seiz­ing on the cold snap.

Rush Limbaugh claimed this week that the “po­lar vor­tex” — the Arc­tic cold-air mass that’s in­vaded the U.S. — is a left-wing and me­dia in­ven­tion to link the cold snap to the “glob­al warm­ing agenda.”

And on the Sen­ate floor this week, Sen. James In­hofe, R-Okla., cited the cold weath­er to sup­port his claims that glob­al warm­ing is a hoax.

In­hofe’s views are counter to the over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of sci­ent­ists who say hu­man activ­it­ies are a driv­ing force be­hind rising glob­al tem­per­at­ures.

Hold­ren said, “No single weath­er epis­ode can either prove or dis­prove glob­al cli­mate change.”

But Hold­ren offered a brief les­son on how glob­al warm­ing could be fuel­ing this week’s fri­gid tem­per­at­ures by af­fect­ing the po­lar vor­tex, which he noted is the swirl­ing mass of cold air that hov­ers around the North Pole.

He said the Arc­tic is warm­ing roughly twice as fast as mid-lat­it­ude areas like the U.S., so the tem­per­at­ure dif­fer­ence between the re­gions is shrink­ing. That’s weak­en­ing the vor­tex and mak­ing it “wavi­er.”

“The wavi­ness means that there can be in­creased, lar­ger ex­cur­sions of cold air south­ward, that is, in­to the mid-lat­it­udes, and in the oth­er phase of the wave, in­creased ex­cur­sions of re­l­at­ively warm­er, mid-lat­it­ude air in­to the north,” Hold­ren said.

The White House is also host­ing an on­line event Fri­day with cli­mate sci­ent­ists and oth­er ex­perts about the cold snap, ex­treme weath­er, and cli­mate change.

What We're Following See More »
DRUG OFFENDERS
Obama Grants 111 More Commutations
3 hours ago
THE DETAILS

In a release Tuesday afternoon, the White House announced that President Obama has commuted and/or reduced the sentences of another 111 convicted criminals, mostly convicted of drug possession or trafficking. About 35 were serving life sentences.

BUT HE’S NOT ADVOCATING FOR IT
Grassley Open to Lame Duck Hearings on Garland
4 hours ago
THE LATEST

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said Monday he'd now be willing to hold a hearing on Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland in a lame-duck session of Congress. While he said he wouldn't push for it, he said if "Hillary Clinton wins the White House, and a majority of senators convinced him to do so," he would soften his previous opposition.

Source:
DEFINITELY MAYBE
Rubio Can’t Guarantee He’ll Serve a Full Term
6 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

We can call this the anti-Sherman-esque statement: If reelected, Marco Rubio ... might serve his whole term. Or he might not. The senator, who initially said he wouldn't run for a second term this year, now tells CNN that if reelected, he wouldn't necessarily serve all six years. “No one can make that commitment because you don’t know what the future is gonna hold in your life, personally or politically,” he said, before adding that he's prepared to make his Senate seat the last political office he ever holds.

Source:
DUTERTE BECAME PRESIDENT IN JUNE
Obama to Raise Multiple Issues in Meeting With Philippines Prez
6 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Since Rodrigo Duterte took over as president of the Philippines in June, he has made a serious of controversial statements and launched a war on drugs that has led to nearly 2000 deaths. He called the US ambassador to the Philippines, Philip Goldberg, "a gay son of a bitch." Next week, President Obama will meet with President Duterte at the East Asia Summit in Laos, where he " will raise concerns about some of the recent statements from the president of the Philippines," according to White House Deputy National Security advisor Ben Rhodes.

Source:
LATE SEPTEMBER
Conservatives Preparing ‘Dry Run’ for Constitutional Convention
6 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

The Convention of States Project, which seeks to force a constitutional convention under Article V of the Constitution, will hold a "dry run" in Colonial Williamsburg starting Sept. 21. "Several states have already followed the process in Article V to endorse the convention." Thirty-four are required to call an actual convention. "The dry run in Williamsburg is meant to show how one would work and focus on the changes and potential constitutional amendments that would be proposed."

Source:
×