The Polar Vortex Is Further Evidence of Climate Change

The Midwest is gripped in cold temperatures so extreme that Chicago is setting fire to its train tracks to keep them in working order, and agencies are bracing for exposure deaths among those who can’t find shelter or get caught outside.

So, of course, the climate denier squad is out in full force to claim that the record low temperatures are evidence that global warming isn’t a thing.

Conservatives love to use extreme weather events like this to look foolish, because here’s the thing: One, they’re very wrong. And, two, they’re super-duper wrong.

First up, scientists are turning to the phrase “climate change,” not “global warming,” because it more accurately describes the constellation of issues our changing planet is facing. Warming is in fact one of those things, and warming is driving many of these trends — but it’s not the only phenomenon at work. And the more irreversible damage we do to the Earth, the more severe these issues are going to become.

We’re seeing more extreme heat and cold, drought and flooding, sea level rise and shrinking glaciers. That’s because the planet contains a series of interconnected systems, and things that happen in one place affect the whole planet. So saying that climate change isn’t real because of abnormally low temperatures is false — because these temperatures are in fact a facet of the changes the world is experiencing.

And specifically claiming that the polar vortex disproves a warming trend is also incorrect — because, surprise, it’s actually caused by warming temperatures.

The reason North America is getting blasted with cold is because there’s unusually warm air over the Arctic. A vortex of warm air actually forms over the Arctic regularly — but sometimes, as in this year, it breaks into several separate swirls of warm currents due to abnormally warm temperatures. These changes distort the jet stream, directing warm air north and cold air south.

It will take weeks for the weather to stabilize. Researchers believe that these weather events may be getting more common because of the warming arctic, as well as the loss of sea ice that makes the planet much toastier than it should be. And this chain reaction brings cruel cold to North America in late winter.

Not everyone is on board with this theory, with some arguing that we need more data to definitively say that these weather incidents are connected with climate change — but the evidence is definitely pointing in that direction.

So if you think global warming is fake, the polar vortex is actually a great example of direct consequences of a warming climate. It’s unusual warmth that’s causing this unusual cold, even if that seems counterintuitive. And if you believe climate change as a whole is fake news, well, take a look at the temperature records being set this year as this cold snap settles in.

If someone in your life is cracking some global warming jokes this week, take the time to set them straight. There’s a reason we’re talking about this in terms of climate change, not just global warming — and, yeah, the planet is actually getting hotter.

Photo Credit: Getty Images


Peggy B
Peggy B1 months ago


Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson2 months ago

Thank you.

Jan S
Jan S2 months ago

Thank you for sharing

Dr. Jan H
Dr. Jan Hill2 months ago


Michael Friedmann
Michael Friedmann2 months ago

Thank You for Sharing This !!!

Carole R
Carole R2 months ago

It's very scary.

Leo C
Leo Custer2 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

Leo C
Leo Custer2 months ago

Thank you for posting!

Dan Blossfeld
Dan B2 months ago

Colin C.,
That is the problem. The idiots are claiming it as evidence.

Colin C
Colin Clauscen2 months ago

Yes of course the Polar Vortex is evidence of Climate Change any idiot apart from most politicians can see that.