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Warming creates snow??

Posted by Barbara Gottlieb on February 12, 2010

The PSR national office, the federal government, and lots of other folks were shut down this week by two back-to-back snowstorms.  Some people call Washington’s snowfall “historic.”  Others opt for "Snowmageddon."

Personally, I call it “global warming snow.” 

Sound strange?  I encourage you to get used to the concept – and to adopt the term. 

Getting from global warming to snow is simple.  As you know, global warming is caused by the buildup of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.  Since the middle of the 20th century, those gases have increased dramatically, largely due to the burning of fossil fuels like coal and petroleum.

The greenhouse gases form a blanket around the Earth, permitting the sun’s rays to enter the atmosphere but preventing heat from escaping back into space. The trapped heat is raising average air and ocean temperatures around the world.

Here’s the connection to our snow blitz:  As global warming heats the ocean’s surface, evaporation increases.  The extra humidity that goes up must eventually come down, and it does – as more frequent intense hurricanes, downpours, and snows.

In other words, more global warming, more chances we’ll get pounded by heavy snowstorms.  (At least, until temperature changes become more extreme.)

The changes in air and ocean temperatures affect more than our local weather; they’re also transforming patterns of rainfall, glacier melt, and ocean currents.  We have entered a period of climate instability, also known as climate chaos

The world is already experiencing the results – including flooding, drought, heat waves, and expanded ranges of many insect-borne and water-borne diseases  – and we can expect more.  It’s a grim prospect for public health.

Unfortunately, many people still don’t understand how global warming works, so they don’t grasp the link to intense snowfalls.  In fact, the number of people who doubt that global warming is real actually rose last fall. 
So as you exchange tales of snow with neighbors and friends, you might take the opportunity to be sure they understand how climate change leads to “global warming snow.”

Let them know that to save ourselves and our planet from extreme weather, flooding, drought, food shortages and disease, we urgently need to replace coal-fired electricity and petroleum-powered cars with clean, safe, renewable energy.

While you’re at it, share those insights with your senators and congressperson.  Many of them seem not to know. 

Also urge them to nix efforts to retract the EPA's finding that carbon dioxide and other global warming pollutants threaten human health and the environment.

Spread the word.  We have lots to do if we want scientific fact to govern climate policy.


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June 13, 2011
Barb Gottlieb said ..

Thanks for the comment, and I have to agree. I had held on to the "global warming" language because it points to the underlying phenomenon – the increasing temperatures in the atmosphere and ocean surface waters, caused by greenhouse gas accumulation. Changes in climate are the outcome of that warming. However, that’s merely logical thinking. I defer to the importance of combating deliberate misinformation.

February 16, 2010
Andrew A. Cadot said ..

Hi Barb: I think we need to retire the term “global warming” and use in its place “climate change.” Eliminates a lot of FOX-speak misinformation and bad jokes! Andy PSR/Maine

February 16, 2010

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