By Olivia Buster ’20
Global warming is synonymous with increasing temperatures and melting ice caps, but scientific evidence has also shown it also contributes to harsher storms.
Global warming has always had its critics. According to a Yale survey, 69% of Americans believe in global warming and 56% are worried about it.
The most influential of critics is the U.S government. In a tweet posted in Dec. 18 during the Eastern winter storm, Trump mocks climate change advocates using the storm as an example.
“In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up!” Trump tweeted.
In this tweet, Trump referred to the global Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement serves a goal to lessen the effects of climate change by keeping global temperatures from increasing. Trump has withdrawn the United States from the agreement.
However, the arctic storm that chilled most of the east and caused record low temperatures and snowfall in the south could have been caused by global warming as well.
Environmental science teacher Jordan Walker explains the common misconception behind climate change and global warming.
“Climate change is the change of the climate. So the temperature, the amount of precipitation, what time of the years the temperature changes and precipitation are occurring,” Walker said. “A lot of people tend to think that climate change and global warming are the same things, and they’re not. Climate change is a natural occurrence. Global warming is more specifically focused on the temperature change.”
The temperature change is caused by the emission of greenhouse gases emitted by factories, exhaust tanks, and even from things we wouldn’t consider, such as cows. The emissions build up in the earth’s atmosphere forming a warm blanket around the earth consisting of pollution that captures heat and increased ocean temperatures.
“Its causing wind currents to change, its causing ocean currents to change, and because of that shift we get more violent storms,” Walker said.
According to the Climate Reality Project, founded by Dr.Michael Mann, a professor of atmospheric science at Penn State University, the large Nor’Easter storm was caused by wind currents and abnormally warm ocean temperatures. The warmer the ocean surface the more moisture is in the atmosphere. This moisture has the ability to form precipitation. As winds hurl around the oceans counterclockwise, they carry it northwest where it transforms under the cold temperatures into snow. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, Winters are projected to see almost one-third more precipitation toward the end of the century.
Wind currents also play a role. A dramatic loss of sea ice in the Arctic could have lead to a jet stream that caused a pattern of cold in the Eastern US, but warmth in the West, according to a Stanford study conducted in 2016.
Walker is unsure if she will live to see the advances made in lessening the impacts of global warming, but believes people can make a change. “Change is coming, it’s going to happen, but whether or not we actually see the results of this change, whether the temperature will stop climbing so drastically, I don’t know that I will see that in the next century,” Walker said.