Attention GOP Presidential Candidates: Winter Does Not Disprove Global Warming

Weather is not climate.

John Locher/AP


Update, 1/21/2016: With an epic blizzard expected to bury Washington, DC, this weekend and an epic caucus night quickly approaching in Iowa, I decided to revisit this post. It remains true that winter storms and cold weather are in no way inconsistent with global warming. But I can no longer stand by my assertion that Donald Trump is “probably not going to run for president.” As Rick Perry would say: Oops.

Snow is falling across the Northeast, and millions of people are preparing for a massive blizzard. Due to the extreme winter conditions, my colleague at Climate Desk has issued the following advisory:

It may seem obvious to you that the existence of extreme winter weather doesn’t negate the scientific fact that humans are warming the planet. But that’s probably because you aren’t a climate change denier who’s contemplating a run for the GOP presidential nomination.

Last year, for example, Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) weighed in on the issue. “It is really freezing in DC,” Cruz said during a speech on energy policy, according to Talking Points Memo. “I have to admit I was surprised. Al Gore told us this wouldn’t happen!” Cruz said the same thing a month earlier, according to Slate: “It’s cold!…Al Gore told me this wouldn’t happen.”

And here’s former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee on his Fox News show, after a major blizzard back in December 2009:

Which brings us to a couple of Republicans who are probably not going to run for president but who have nevertheless generated headlines recently by suggesting they might. Here’s Donald Trump, during a cold snap last year:

And here’s a 2012 Facebook post from former Gov. Sarah Palin, citing extremely cold winter temperatures in her home state of Alaska:

Palin Facebook

If you’re a regular Climate Desk reader, you already know why all this is wrong. You understand the difference between individual weather events and long-term climate trends. You probably even know that according to the National Climate Assessment, winter precipitation is expected to increase in the northeastern United States as a result of climate change. But if you’re a Republican who wants to be president, please pay close attention to the following video:

More MotherJones reporting on Climate Desk

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