Snow-covered street

Fact Check: Craig Kelly and cold weather (again)

Six quick facts.

Claim

On 27th October, Craig Kelly posted this:

HUNDREDS OF ALL TIME COLD RECORDS FALL ACROSS NORTH AMERICA
Global warming alarmists are in a complete state of shock, as their warmist prophecy freezes over.

Verdict

This claim is pretty much meaningless. Thousands of temperature records are set every year in the USA and many more high temperature than low. No-one should see these events as shocking.

Explanation

6 facts explain these cold weather events.

1. Climate vs weather

We’ve said it before. The weather is what happens at a given location at a given time. It changes all the time, season to season, year to year and day to day. Sometimes it’s cold, sometimes it’s hot.

The climate is the average of the weather over several decades. It doesn’t vary so much.

Global warming is the fact that worldwide the average temperature is getting hotter. But it will still be cold sometimes in some places.

2. Thousands of records

There are thousands of temperature records. All the different measuring stations, all the different seasons, daily, weekly, monthly and annual averages, and so on.

Apparently there are thousands of temperature records broken every year in the USA. Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe says that: “across the United States, over 10,000 cold temperature records were broken in 2017 alone. But, the same year, over 30,000 hot temperature records were broken.”

Far more high temperature records are being broken than low temperature records, just as you’d expect with global warming. So hundreds of low temperature records claimed by Craig Kelly, is not unusual, and the relatively low number proves the opposite of what he says.

3. It’s a hot year

2020 is a hot year, heading for the hottest or second hottest on record. And consider these facts:

  • The last five decades have each been hotter worldwide than the one before.
  • The six hottest years on record, globally, have been the last 6 years.

No matter what happens in winter in the USA, the world is getting hotter. When it is cold in USA, it is hotter somewhere else.

You can read about more 2020 hot weather records in Fact check: Craig Kelly and record cold temperatures.

Monthly temperature every 20 years since 1880. The world is getting hotter all year round.
(NASA data graphed by Statista and shown by World Economic Forum.)

4. It’s cherry-picking

Highlighting some cold weather records and ignoring the data showing the world getting warmer overall, is cherry picking.

It’s a fallacy. It misrepresents the truth. And it’s not honestly dealing with the facts.

5. Warmer climate = more moisture

As the world warms, more water is evaporated from the oceans. Much of it rains back on the oceans, especially in fierce storms and hurricanes.

But if it falls over land in winter, it may fall as snow. Increasing winter snow in the USA is a sign of global warming, not evidence against it.

6. Polar vortex?

A changing climate leads to changing weather patterns, including changing air movement. The movement of air in the Arctic has become more variable and more dynamic, just as you’d expect.

Sometimes it pushes cold air south over North America, Europe and northern Asia. When this happens, extremely cold weather and large snowfalls are more likely.

I have seen this event described as the polar vortex or Arctic oscillation. But either way, it has been known for more than a decade – this NASA page for children a decade ago talks about it! However it is still not fully understood.

But overall, winters are getting warmer in USA, threatening the winter recreation industry.

Conclusion

The cold weather facts quoted by Mr Kelly are meaningless because they are removed from their context. When understood in the context of a clear warming trend, including warmer winters in the US, and the number of hot weather records being broken, the claims are silly. When it is cold somewhere, it is hotter somewhere else.

It is sad and frustrating to have to keep pointing out that our elected representative here in Hughes either understands the science of climate change so little, or else chooses to ignore it.

References

Photo: kconnors on MorgueFile.

  1. Climate change is caused by pollution , Pollution cannot be denied , if Craig Kelly does not want to do anything for climate change , he should do it for pollution control ! (Clean air, clean water,clean food production , etc for the future generations ..) this government should facilitate , like in some European countries the use of electric cars , motorbikes , public transport ,etc . Some banks in Europe give special subsidised loans for people to purchase greener cars. China gives free registration to green cars buyers .. May be the site should point out what other countries are doing to reduce pollution and at the same time act in regard to the climate change which affect all classes of our society. Hopefully if Trump is kicked out of US politics, Australia will have to change its path !

  2. Hi Philippe, thanks for your encouragement and your thoughts. I think, unfortunately, that Mr Kelly’s anti-climate change stance is based on ideology rather than facts.

    I agree with you, we need better support for alternative energy and reduce greenhouse fas emissions, whether in power generation, home & office heating/cooling, motor vehicles or agriculture. When I can I will take up your suggestion of writing about what other countries are doing, thanks.

    It looks like President trump has not been re-elected, and we can nonly hope that Biden can implement his climate change plan and Australia will follow, as you say. Thanks.

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