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It's cold- Is there climate change?

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“No, today does not prove or disprove climate change..."

As climate change has become politicized over the past number of years, we’ve seen people on both sides trying to point to specific climate events to say “Look, climate change” or “Look, it’s snowing, there must not be climate change”. So to begin, we’ll say “No, today does not prove or disprove climate change,”…”but the extreme weather events, and highl levels of winter precipitation illustrate a trend predicted by climate models.” It’s much less snappy, but far more accurate.

“But we are having record cold temperatures, how can there be global warming?”

It’s a question that gets asked often. Climate change is not about today or yesterday, but is focused on trends. When you look at the temperature today and see these record cold temperatures, you could also look at last week when it was in the mid-40s (it will also be in the upper 30s and lower 40s by the end of this week). If you look at the past 15 days, you’ll see an average temperature of roughly 26 degrees.

Last month, WMEAC put out the Grand Rapids Climate Resiliency Report that talked about climate change at a hyper local level. The climate models were centered around Grand Rapids and the modeling that was used showed that there will be many changes in the climate over the next 20-40 years. In that modeling, temperature was only one of the considerations.

Increased precipitation in Winter and Spring, hotter and drier summers, and warmer winters will all impact West Michigan.  If you look again at the last 15 days, you’ll see 6 of those 15 days had a change in temperature of 8 degrees or more with 4 of those days with changes over 10 degrees. However, to say the last 15 days prove climate change is real or happened because of climate change would be an inaccurate statement, but to say certain elements of the extreme weather West Michigan has experienced in last 15 days serve as an example of what the models project is coming over the next 20-40 years – that would be accurate.

So, no, today does not prove or disprove climate change. It does not help folks on either side of the issue to point to weather events to prove or disprove climate change.

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