The common misconception that cold is at odds with climate change is based on a misconception about the difference between weather and climate. Climate change is a phenomenon caused by the increase in the amount of greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide, in the Earth’s atmosphere. These gases trap the sun’s heat and cause global temperatures to rise, leading to climate change.
Although climate change is primarily associated with rising temperatures, it can also contribute to cold weather. Global warming disrupts atmospheric circulation patterns such as the jet stream, which can lead to extreme weather events such as cooling currents and polar vortices. These events occur when large volumes of cold Arctic air are pushed further south, affecting areas unaccustomed to such low temperatures.
Furthermore, melting polar ice due to climate change could alter ocean currents, which play a key role in regulating global temperature. Changes in these currents, such as a weakening gulf Stream, can result in cooler temperatures in some areas. Although localized cold events can occur, the general trend of global climate change is toward rising temperatures.
The scientific consensus overwhelmingly supports the idea that human activities, particularly the burning of fossil fuels, are the primary cause of climate change. Distinguishing between short-term weather variability and long-term climate patterns is critical to gaining a full understanding of how climate change is affecting our planet.