Many conservative critics of global warming are very vocal about the fact that they find it hard to believe that the Earth is warming when there is a record-breaking blizzard raging outside their door. These critics are failing to see the big picture. But they raise an importnat point. Europe and the Northeastern United States, even parts of the Southern United States, have seen historic snowstorms these past two winters. Major cities were paralyzed; in New York City this winter a newborn baby died because the snow was not plowed in time for the parents to get to the hospital.
But what does this mean for the rest of the globe? For one thing, this heightened snowfall was not the case everywhere. Areas such as Greenland and Northern Canada that are normally known for their snow found it to be sorely lacking in these past two years, some places experiencing average temperatures as many as twenty degrees higher than normal.
So why the shift? Scientists say that the change in weather patterns is due to a weakening of the arctic “fence,” which normally keeps frigid air safely tucked away to the north. Because it has been weakened in the past two years, that means more cold air moving further south. Meanwhile, in turn, the door is opened for warm air to move north.
There has been no conclusive evidence as to whether this phenomenon is caused by global warming. Many scientists disagree on the issue. But in spite of the snowstorms, global temperatures continue to climb. In addition to being the wettest year on record, 2010 has officially tied 2005 as the hottest year on record. Nine out of ten of the warmest years on record have been in the twenty-first century—and it is only 2011. Climate record keeping began in 1880.