MythBuster: Snow in Israel, is Global Warming Real?


By campaign agent Ben Abbs

Of course, we can all probably guess which credible source tweeted these statements. Yes, these are the words of Commader-in-Tweet, President Donald Trump.

Like him or not, he has his moments of factual gaffs – I for one can remember winters worse than 2013 in the North of Scotland where I live – but it did snow in Israel in January 2013. Thus, it does raise the question, if a hot place experiences unusually cold weather, how can Global Warming be real?

Unsurprisingly, the answer is not that simple. It is perhaps easier to think of global warming as the action and Climate Change as its consequence. In general, the world is heating up, principally due to human activity. However, not everywhere in the world will get warmer, even if most places do.

The first thing to mention about the weather and climate change is that just because it once snows unexpectedly in Israel and Lebanon, it does not mean these places are getting colder; one should always look at the general trend. Global warming will disrupt the environments we live in, which are dictated by complex weather and environmental systems. For example, the U.K. is estimated to be kept 5 degrees hotter than other places on the same latitude because of the Gulf Stream which is predicted to be altered by global warming.

A warming planet will affect climates by altering hydrological patterns; while most places will become drier, some will become wetter. This polarisation of climates towards ‘precipitation extremes’ is likely to make the weather more extreme; globally, floods and droughts will be more common. Furthermore, the calendars we live by are dictated by our understanding of the planet’s routines. We plant crops in spring, we grow them in summer, we harvest them in autumn, and we grow less in winter. Climate Change will increasingly make these patterns obsolete. We will be less able to predict seasonal norms and weather patterns as easily, and less able to run our societies accordingly. This is the loss of what the scientific community calls ‘relative hydrological stationarity’; the decline in our ability to predict the flow of the world’s water based on historical patterns. Climate change thus becomes a more informative term than global warming.

Additionally, climate change alone does not explain all environmental problems and crises. Environmental pressures are something slightly different to climate change— although, they are still very similar in consequences and appearance. Put simply, with the current unsustainable approach to living there will be too many people in the world.

Poor resource management, population, and economic growth will increasingly generate more severe environmental pressures. For example, the combination of these factors with China’s dysfunctional water economy (e.g., 2/4 of its agriculture is in the North, but only 1/5 of its water is) are putting it on the path to a severe water crisis; unsurprisingly climate change is also playing a part. This has already had serious domestic and international repercussions, notably playing a large part in inducing the Arab Spring, and will have a greater impact in the future.

So yes, climate change is real, it is truly happening, and it is something all of us should seriously engage with; that, or working out how to live on Mars.

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