White House: Extreme Cold Doesn’t Disprove Global Warming

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Ice builds up along Lake Michigan at North Avenue Beach as temperatures dipped well below zero on Jan. 6, 2014 in Chicago, Ill. (credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Ice builds up along Lake Michigan at North Avenue Beach as temperatures dipped well below zero on Jan. 6, 2014 in Chicago, Ill. (credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBS DC/AP) — A new video released by the White House states that the extreme cold dominating much of the U.S. this week doesn’t disprove global warming.

In the video, Dr. John Holdren, President Barack Obama’s science and technology adviser, explains that we will see more of this type of extreme weather due to global warming.

“If you’ve 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. “The fact is that no single weather episode can either prove or disprove global climate change.”

The big chill started in the Midwest over the weekend, caused by a kink in the “polar vortex,” the strong winds that circulate around the North Pole. The icy air covered about half the country by Tuesday, but it was moving north, returning more normal and warmer weather to most of the country. This weekend, it was expected to be in the 50s in New York and even higher in places farther south along the Eastern Seaboard.

“A growing body of evidence suggests that the kind of extreme cold being experienced by much of the United States as we speak is a pattern that we can expect to see with increasing frequency as global warming continues,” Holdren said in the video.

Holdren continued: “I believe the odds are that we can expect as a result of global warming to see more of this pattern of extreme cold in the mid-latitudes and some extreme warm in the far north.”

The Lower 48 states, when averaged out, reached a low of 13.8 degrees overnight Monday, according to calculations by Ryan Maue of Weather Bell Analytics. An estimated 190 million people in the U.S. were subjected to the polar vortex’s icy blast.

The cold turned deadly for some: Authorities reported at least 21 cold-related deaths across the country since Sunday, including seven in Illinois and six in Indiana. At least five people died after collapsing while shoveling snow, while several victims were identified as homeless people who either refused shelter or didn’t make it to a warm haven soon enough.

Natural gas demand in the U.S. set a record Tuesday, eclipsing the mark set a day earlier, according to Jack Weixel, director of energy analysis at Bentek Energy.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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