Stay connected!

Our FREE newsletters provide a daily roundup of the morning’s top headlines. Subscribe today!






A gleeful headline on the Drudge Report is making the rounds this morning:

Cancun temps plunge to 100-year record low – during ‘global warming’ summit!

The Week, which Drudge’s link points to, has issued an “Irony Alert” (if you haven’t already stocked up on canned goods, now might be the time), and climate skeptics are crowing over the “inconvenient” weather.

And so begins an annual shift in the narrative on climate change. In winter months, cold weather is treated by skeptics as evidence that the climate isn’t changing after all, and we should all just continue to hold off on doing anything about it, and the media plays along, because, well, who doesn’t love irony?

This, of course, stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of climate science. “Global warming” does not mean that the weather across the entire planet warms uniformly. Winter will still be cold, and in some places, it could even get colder.

And in the Arctic, winter is getting quite a bit warmer, which, paradoxically, may be the culprit behind those chilly temperatures in Mexico. To be clear, I’m not a climate scientist. But actual climate scientists say that retreating ice in the Arctic is causing more heat to be released from the sea into the atmosphere, which is disrupting normal air circulation patterns and pushing cold air further south.

Here’s a picture of it:

For the geographically challenged, Cancun is in that big blue plume at the bottom of the map.

So the cold weather in Cancun is actually another piece of evidence that our climate is going haywire.

Does that still count as irony?

Ken Paulman

Ken is the director of the Energy News Network at Fresh Energy and is a founding editor of both Midwest Energy News and Southeast Energy News. Prior to joining Fresh Energy, he was the managing editor for online news at Minnesota Public Radio. He started his journalism career in 2002 as a copy editor for the Duluth News Tribune before spending five years at the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, where he worked as a copy editor, online producer, features editor and night city editor. A Nebraska native, Ken has a bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master's degree from the University of Oregon. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors.