The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang (CWG) blog attempted to link the recent East Coast blizzard to global warming Wednesday, only to be shot down by veteran climate scientist Chip Knappenberger.
“To me some folks at Capital Weather Gang are overly eager to link human-caused climate change to extreme weather events,” Knappenberger, a climate scientist at the libertarian Cato Institute, told The Daily Caller Caller News Foundation. “There is a lot of scientific research out there on the complexities of extreme weather events and undoubtedly there is much more still to come. In fact, the breadth of extreme weather literature is so large that, through careful selection, you can pretty much build any story you want to when it comes to how any particular type of event may (or may not) have been influenced by greenhouse gas emissions from human activities.”
CWG reported Wednesday that seven of the top ten snowstorms in the Washington, D.C.-area have occurred since 1979. The Gang used this fact to go ahead and argue the “tempo of big storms for the city has increased” due to global warming. The Post concluded that “the planet may be changing in multiple ways to help intensify the most severe East Coast snowstorms, even as the climate warms and becomes less hospitable for snow.”
Knappenberger disagreed and pummeled CWG with a blizzard of tweets detailing why the argument was overblown.
“The literature on most extreme weather types indicates that while enhanced atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases may play some role in the evolution of the development, intensity, track, etc. of the event, that the impact is both uncertain and dwarfed by natural variability,” Knappenberger continued.
CWG also tied blizzards to global warming by citing a 2012 opinion piece by meteorologist Jennifer Francis, but Knappenberger noted that Francis’ work has been contradicted by more recent climate research.
The three largest D.C. blizzards occurred in 1899, 1922 and 1979, with D.C.’s annual average snowfall steadily declining in recent years, according to The Washington Post. CWG acknowledged that in the early 1900s, D.C. averaged about 21 inches of snow per year, while it currently averages just 15.4 inches.
This isn’t the first time The Washington Post has tried to tie global warming to huge blizzards. The paper recently compared January’s East Coast blizzard to the film “The Day After Tomorrow,” where global warming causes a new ice age. In the movie, global warming shuts down ocean currents and creates weather catastrophes, including a worldwide blizzard.