Is Global Warming Making It Snow?

In the early days of global warming hysteria, the alarmists understandably warned that warmer temperatures would cause, among other things, less snow. Jim Steele reminds us:

[Kevin] Trenberth’s 1999 paper framing the effects of global warming on extreme precipitation declared, “With higher average temperatures in winter expected, more precipitation is likely to fall in the form of rain rather than snow, which will increase both soil moisture and run off, as noted by the IPCC (1996) and found in many models.” The 2001 IPCC 3rd Assessment repeated those expectations stating, “Northern Hemisphere snow cover, permafrost, and sea-ice extent are projected to decrease further.” Soon climate scientists like Dr. Viner proffered alarming scenarios that “children would no longer know what snow was”. Similarly in 2008 politicians like RFK Jr. warned DC children would be deprived of the fun of sledding due to global warming.

It all sounded plausible, but nature refused to cooperate:

But our climate naturally oscillates and by early February of 2010 Snowmageddon was blanketing the USA’s eastern seaboard with record snows, making global warming predictions the butt of many jokes. The heavy snows didn’t disprove CO2 had caused any warming, but it definitely highlighted failed predictions.

If the alarmists were scientists, they would acknowledge that a theory that generates false predictions is wrong. But they aren’t doing science, they are doing politics. So they retrospectively revised their predictions. Any port in a storm:

In 2011 Chris Mooney writing for the DeSmog blog noted heavy snowfall had become a “communications nightmare” for global warming theory and urged, “We need to move the public to a place where drawing a warming-snowstorm connection isn’t so challenging”.

Good luck with that.

Kevin Trenberth was already on point. Just two weeks after the 2010 Snowmageddon, Trenberth appeared in a NPR interview flip-flopping to a new climate change framework in which a “Warming Planet Can Mean More Snow”. Now he argued, “The fact that the oceans are warmer now than they were, say, 30 years ago means there’s about on average 4 percent more water vapor lurking around over the oceans than there was, say, in the 1970s”. Thus “you can get dumped on with more snow partly as a consequence of global warming,” A year later the Union of Concerned Scientists held a press conference asserting global warming was no longer causing less snow, but causing heavier snow. And now, every year as heavy snowstorms approach, Trenberth and his well-groomed media outlets bombard the public, urging them not to be misled by their senses, but trust that cold and snowy days have worsened due to global warming.

The alarmists’ new, improved global warming theory was that warmer temperatures caused the atmosphere to be able to hold more moisture. Therefore the total precipitable water vapor increases with CO2, and–presto!–more water vapor means more snow. All earlier predictions were conveniently forgotten.

There are several problems with this theory, including the fact that total precipitable water vapor has not increased in parallel with atmospheric CO2:


It is true that warmer temperatures allow the air to hold more water, so the lack of any significant increase in TPW implies that the Earth hasn’t been warming as required by the alarmists’ theories. Needless to say, this isn’t the conclusion they draw. But as we all know, consistency is not their strong point. Trenberth is famous for writing privately to his political allies: “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.”

The point of this amusing story is that for the alarmists, almost everything is negotiable. More snow? Less snow? No problem! No matter what happens, they tweak their models and pretend that they saw it coming all along. There is only one constant, one fixed star amid the models’ constant fluidity: the need for government control over the world’s economies. This is why governments pay billions to the climate alarmists, and are utterly indifferent to their laughable record of failed predictions. Climate alarmism has nothing to do with science.