Dec 14, 2015

Global Warming Isn’t Really to Blame for This Crazy Warm Weather. So Enjoy It!

United States
by
Eric Holthaus
,
Slate
A man dressed as a Santa’s elf pumps his fists during a kickball game before the start of the annual SantaCon pub crawl Dec. 12, 2015, in Brooklyn. Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images
A man dressed as a Santa’s elf pumps his fists during a kickball game before the start of the annual SantaCon pub crawl Dec. 12, 2015, in Brooklyn. Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

On Sunday, the temperature in New York City’s Central Park hit 67 degrees—the warmest Dec. 13 since 1923. Manhattanites practiced yoga outdoors and ice-skated in short sleeves...What the heck is going on? To be clear: Global warming wasn’t primarily to blame/thank for this weekend’s ridiculously warm weather. A record-breaking El Niño has shunted the jet stream far to the north, paving the way for warm air to shatter records. The lack of snow so far—that may change later on this winter—has also helped keep things warmer: Without snow on the ground, the feeble December sun can warm things up much more efficiently. Third on the list, bumping up temperatures by perhaps a couple of degrees, is global warming. (Though, recent science suggests super-strong El Niños like this one might become more common in the coming decades.) Blaming an exceptionally warm December day entirely on global warming is just as misplaced as senators seeking to use a snowball as proof against it. Climate change made this weekend’s warmth more likely, but it wasn’t the main driving force.