Business, Economics and Jobs

It's cold out. Here's what climate change skeptics have to say about that.

In most of the United States, it's really cold. Really, really, really cold, thanks to something called the "polar vortex."

The polar vortex is a big swirling bunch of really cold air that's now chilling several thousand feet over our heads. Usually the polar vortex stays in the arctic, so we should be grateful for the visit. 

Scientists think climate change is partly to blame. A warming global climate might have weakened the polar vortex, they say, making it more likely for portions to break off and go traveling.

That's not the only chilly news. You might have been following the icy saga of the Akademik Shokalskiy, a ship carrying scientists, journalists, and tourists that got stuck in Antarctic ice on Christmas eve. It's finally been freed by a Chinese icebreaker called the Snow Dragon. 

What gives with all this ice in the Antarctic? What's with all this cold outside my house? I thought the world was supposed to be warming?!

Nothing brings out climate change skeptics and deniers quite like a cold snap, or a story about scientists stuck in the very Antarctic ice that scientists say is melting. Silly scientists and their climate science and their evolution and all that.

Do yourself a favor and DO NOT search "global warming" on Twitter, because you'll find yourself feeling very badly about your fellow humans. "Global warming my ass," is a common refrain.

If you want some serious reporting — from all over the world — about the realities of climate change, read GlobalPost's year-long investigation: Calamity Calling. Meanwhile, here's a taste of what some prominent climate change skeptics are saying about this icy, chilly, vortexy week.


1) Rep. John Fleming (R-Louisiana)

(Wikimedia Commons)

We'll start with the politicians. And first up is Rep. Fleming, whose tweet was simple, direct, and made good use of scare-quotes.

"'Global warming' isn't so warm these days."

Well done.


2) Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas)

(Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons)

Rep. Stockman's got a great Twitter feed if you want to buy a campaign bumpersticker that reads, "If babies had guns, they wouldn't be aborted," or if you are into visual gags involving assault weapons and a bottle of gun lubricant with its label covered by the words "liberal tears" scrawled on a post-it note.

Yucks all around.

Stockman's entry to the global conversation about climate change:

"Global Warming Science Primer:

May-October: Weather is climate!

November-April: Weather is not climate!"


3) Joe Miller, candidate for US Senate (R-Alaska)

(John Moore/Getty Images)

Joe Miller was the GOP nominee for the Senate in 2010 and he's running again this year.

From his website, an article titled "Global Warming Believers are Today's Climate Deniers":

"Not only are Climate Change Truthers not celebrating, they are hysterical with worry that unexpected Antarctic ice discoveries and American winters returning to the normalcy those of us of a certain age remember, might hurt their religion crusade. The media is so worried they have coordinated a cover-up of the news from Antarctica and those of us pointing to what one might call the “science” of colder temperatures and increased Arctic ice are being mocked for doing so."


4) Sean Chu, Calgary City Council


You don't need to be an American politician to get in the climate skeptic game. Sean Chu, a city councilor from Calgary, Canada, got a lot of attention for this creatively punctuated tweet:

"So quiet from the global warming alarmists about the ice stuck ship&yyc weather,it's deafening. Is it b/c the weather's been so freaking cold?"


5) Donald Trump

(Slaven Vlasic/AFP/Getty Images)

We move now from the politicians to the talking heads, or in this case, the talking hair. (Yuck yuck!)

Here's the Donald:

"This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps,and our GW scientists are stuck in ice."


6) Erick Erickson

(Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons)

Erickson, the editor-in-chief of the right-wing blog and a frequent guest on various talking-head cable shows, got confusingly religious in a series of climate tweets. He began:

"The difference between people who believe in the 2nd coming of Jesus and those who believe in global warming is that Jesus will return."

And then, after the inevitable backlash:

"A lot of liberals on twitter want me to know God is fake and global warming is real. Bet they have their heater on today too."

And finally:

"This record breaking cold is not evidence against global warming say people who think Hurricane Sandy is proof of global warming."


7) Rush Limbaugh


If only Rush loved the Earth the way he loves his cat, Punkin. He delivered plenty of gems this week on his radio show, including:

"I would love to see Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and Hillary sitting outside on the 50 yard line of Green Bay the whole game, and then afterwards do a presentation for us all on global warming. Sit there the whole game outside."

And this:

"The global warming crew, this is so classic. I just love it. They're going down to Antarctica — the South Pole, for those of you in Rio Linda — and they're gonna prove that there's so much global warming that there isn't any ice, or very little ice, that it's melting. It's a cruise. And they get stuck in the ice far, far away from their intended destination. So icebreakers are called in. The icebreakers get stuck!"

Plenty more where that came from.


8) Joseph Curl, Washington Times


From talking heads to journalists and news (or news-like) outlets.

Joseph Curl, a columnist for the conservative Washington Times, published a column titled, "Irony alert: Global warmists get stuck in ice." My favorite bit:

"Al Gore has reportedly bought not one, not two, but three homes near beaches. So he doesn’t seem too worried about that coming sea-surge tsunami. Again, you just can’t make this stuff up."


9) Fox News

(Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Fox News is doing its part to cast doubt on climate change. It has an entire landing page dedicated to "Global Cooling," a term you're likely to hear on the air if you wish to tune in. And it's reported on the biggest cover-up since Benghazi: that the "media push a global warming agenda" by "ignoring the fact that the ice-bound ship was on a global warming research mission."


10) Wall Street Journal

(Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

The editors at the Wall Street Journal probably consider themselves too sophisticated for outright climate change denial. But the implications of this editorial, "Carbon to the Rescue: Fossil Fuels Power Retrieval of Trapped Climate Scientists," are obvious:

"Reporting on the environmental movement has always required a certain sense of humor. And now we have an expedition launched in part to study the melting of Antarctic ice sheets that has been trapped since Christmas in ice so thick that rescue attempts have failed to reach the frozen vessel."

Seriously scientists — shouldn't you be getting rescued by a solar-powered helicopter? Hypocrites.


11) Jim Geraghty, National Review


Geraghty, a campaign correspondent for the National Review, saw the same hypocrisy as WSJ, tweeting:

"What's the carbon footprint of that Antarctic ice rescue effort?"

Those scientists are going to need a lot of carbon offsets.


12) Michael Johns

(Amanda Penecale/Wikimedia Commons)

From news outlets, we'll end with a category I'll call the "passive aggressive retweeter." These four people are all prominent conservative commentators. And each weighed in on the climate change "debate" indirectly by courageously retweeting someone else's tweet. Because nothing takes a stand like a retweet.

First is Michael Johns, a founder of the National Tea Party. He retweeted:

"Frozen out: 98% of Stories Ignore that Ice-bound Ship Was on Global Warming Mission #climatechange."


"Global Warming Fanatics Trapped in Antarctic Sea Ice That Should Have Melted"


13) Michelle Malkin


RT: "'Bittersweet irony': Ship that rescued trapped climate change researchers may be stuck in ice."


14) Ann Coulter

(Chip Somodevilla/AFP/Getty Images)

RT: "5 years ago Al Gore claimed there would be no ice by 2014 — look at him now." Followed by a photoshop of Al Gore looking like a frozen statue.


15) Glenn Beck

(Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

RT: "Let's Stop the Climate Fraud" along with an image showing a road with snow piled higher than a bus.

In the Twitter interactions that followed, Beck claimed that climate scientists had once predicted we'd have no snow by now.

"Read London times circa 2000. It was a big deal that snow would be a thing of the past/children would not know snow by 2010."

Sigh. Brrr.