by Chris Good -- staff editor at TheAtlantic.com
Irked by the suggestion of climate change doubters that the East Coast snowstorm is proof that global warming doesn't exist, the liberal Center for American Progress pulled together a conference call today to tell reporters not only that that's not the case, but, basically, to stop being a mouthpiece for people who doubt the science.
Jeff Masters, director of meteorology at Weather Underground, got on the call to remind everyone that snowfall does not equal a drop in temperature--that as long as it's cold enough for snow, precipitation means a snowstorm.
More precipitation--including heavy snowstorms--is a sign of global warming, he said, as atmospheric moisture levels have increased with warmer temperatures, meaning more storms with heavy snow or rain.
"We still will have snowstorms, and the signs of record snowstorms being evidence against global warming is just not true," Masters said. "In the future we shouldn't be surprised to find heavier precipitation events."
Center for American Progress climate change fellow Joseph Romm criticized John M. Broder's New York Times story, in which Romm was quoted, which noted the uptick of global warming debate during the snowstorm. A chorus of Republicans have mocked Al Gore since the snowstorm hit. The family of Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), the leading climate change skeptic in the nation (and, by extension, perhaps the world) built an igloo on Capitol Hill bearing a sign that read "Al Gore's New Home." This is not new; cold weather often sparks criticisms of climate change, and of Gore.
"We're not in a deep freeze," Romm said of the NY Times headline, "Climate-Change Debate Is Heating Up in Deep Freeze."
"This actualy is, according to the satellite record, it's the warmest winter on record," Romm said. "The scientific literature predicts that you will see more intense winter storms because of global warming."
Romm pointed to warm temperatures (in the upper 40s) and likely rain during the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
"I realize that this can be a complicated matter to report," Romm said. "The challenge for the media is gonna be how do you report about this statistical increase in extreme weather and not let those who don't understand the science obfuscate it."