Does the frigid weather from the "polar vortex" this week disprove global warming?
"Don't believe it," the White House says – and get ready for even more extreme weather.
Seeking to counter climate change skeptics who have been arguing that this week's extreme cold refutes climate change, Obama Administration Science Adviser Dr. John Holdren took to YouTube Wednesday to argue not only "that no single weather episode can either prove or disprove global climate change," but that the pattern of unusual weather will only continue.
"If you've been hearing that extreme cold spells like the one that we're having in the United States now disproves global warming, don't believe it," Holdren said at the opening of the two-minute video, sitting in front of green screen displays of satellite weather data and clips of winter storms.
"Climate is the pattern of weather that we observe geographically and over the seasons, and it is described in terms of averages, variations and probabilities," he said. "A growing body of evidence suggests that the kind of extreme cold being experienced by much of the United States as we speak is a pattern that we can expect to see with increasing frequency as global warming continues."
Right-wing pundits have voiced skepticism about the theory - conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, in particular, labeled it "fraudulent" in a Jan. 6 show, according to PunditFact, a fact-checking arm of the Tampa Bay Times.
"Well, obviously there is no melting of ice going on at the North Pole. If they're gonna tell us the polar vortex is responsible for this cold, that means record cold is also happening in the North Pole, which means there isn't any ice melting," he said.
PunditFact, citing climate scientists, awarded the assertion its lowest rating, "Pants on Fire."
In the White House's YouTube video, Holdren explained that as the planet continues to warm, and the temperature difference between the Arctic and lower latitudes shrinks, the "polar vortex" of cold air that swirls around the far north will instead become "wavier," dipping further south and carrying extreme cold with it.
"We can expect as a result of global warming to see more of this pattern of extreme warm in the far latitudes," Holdren says.
As of Thursday morning, the video – one of more than 4,000 posted by the White House – had attracted over 28,000 views.