Connect to share and comment

Does this winter’s weather mean global warming has ended?

Over the past few months, countries around the world have been facing extreme weather conditions. Many parts of the United States have had snow for the first time in decades. Northern states like New York have seen record-setting quantities that have rendered many residents housebound. Even London and other European cities where the winter months bring rain has had snowfall that rivals that of the more northern parts of North America.

With so much snow, and colder-than-normal temperatures this season, many people are beginning to wonder what became of global warming? After all, its title alone indicates that climate change should cause temperatures to rise and glaciers to melt.

The label global warming is deceiving. While it primarily refers to rising temperatures, it can also be responsible for other kinds of extreme weather.

It’s also important to make the distinction between climate and weather. Weather can refer to one-time events, and there isn’t always a direct cause that explains anything perceived as abnormal. Climate change, on the other hand, takes into account the bigger picture. Scientists and environmentalists say this is a problem that hasn’t gone away despite one-off weather events.

The timing of unusual weather this year, fuels those skeptical about climate change. This week, Al Gore spoke out to skeptics who doubt the reality of human-caused climate change. He addressed a few errors in the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2007 report which has led many to disregard the role humans play.

Perhaps the global population isn’t as influential as we’ve been led to believe. But, it's still up to us to take steps to reduce our toll, no matter what role we play.