Bruce Bisset: Arctic warmth creates big freeze

By Bruce Bisset

26 comments
With severe weather events happening regularly everywhere it is time for the masses to finally realise they have been lied to.
With severe weather events happening regularly everywhere it is time for the masses to finally realise they have been lied to.

What I love (not!) about climate change deniers is how they cherry-pick data in a very superficial way and then overstate their misinterpretation of it, as if doing so somehow turns a random observation into irrefutable proof.

Take the severe snowstorms and floods affecting America and Europe. A raft of deniers have been having a field day claiming this proves the myth of global warming - and doubtless to many ordinary folk, at first glance that might seem so.

If the Earth is warming, why is it freezing? So it can't be warming. QED.

But in fact it is precisely because the Earth is warming that these never-before-seen freezes are happening.

In this case, the "polar vortex" that almost crippled Canada and the USA last month, and the storms and floods afflicting Britain now, are directly related to the Arctic as a whole - and the area between Greenland and Russia in particular - warming far more rapidly than anywhere else.

Temperatures there are already 2C to 5C greater than usual. By century's end, while the global average rise will be about 2.5C above today's norm, the eastern Arctic will have warmed by 20C - or more.

Which is the tricky thing about averages. On a global scale, "average" is meaningless. Some places will get cooler! But some will get far hotter.

The Arctic is one such. Problem is, it's the most crucial place in terms of the effects generated by warming, as we are now witnessing.

See, the primary currents of the seas and the winds are controlled by temperature. If the Arctic ocean, or air, or both, warms or cools too much, those macro-mechanisms change their behaviour. And of course the oceanic and atmospheric systems interact.

In the water, the currents at different depths rely on temperature differentials between them in order to keep operating as they should. If any layer warms or cools too much, the whole system gets thrown out of whack and could even cease to function.

Which was, you may recall, the over-played but still relevant scenario used by disaster movie The Day After Tomorrow.

In the air, latest research shows the circumpolar jet stream is "dipping" lower than normal into the Atlantic because it is warmer, and therefore weaker, so it is getting diverted by local weather systems.

This forces the jetstream south, bringing polar storms with it; and those storms hang around far longer than usual because the jetstream now lacks the force to push through them - so the storms eddy in place instead of moving on.

Much as a back-current might eddy in the corner of a diversion race in a stream, while the main flow diverts elsewhere.

Result? The US and Europe freeze and flood - and all because the Arctic is warming.

A denier - someone who deliberately misleads, rather than someone merely taken in by "the obvious" - will not explain these things to you. Because to admit the "myth" is real would open people's eyes to the fact human-induced climate change is just as real. And that can't be allowed, because it is the dirty, polluting, climate change-causing business of coal and oil that has made the rich.

But with severe weather events happening regularly everywhere - such as Australia's burning droughts and our cyclonic summers - the time is upon us where the masses will finally realise they have been lied to: consistently, deliberately, for a long time.

On that day, I bet you won't be able to find a denier for any money.

That's the right of it.

Bruce Bisset is a freelance writer and poet.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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