Despite cold winter, global warming still existing issue

By Melissa Silverberg

In spite of a winter filled with heavy snow and freezing temperatures, scientists said global warming still exists.

Climate change is more of a long-term pattern, meaning there will still be day-to-day and month-to-month variations, said Jim Angel, state climatologist.

“We’ve seen a trend toward warmer and milder winters over 20 years, but that doesn’t mean every winter will be milder,” Angel said. “We haven’t had a winter like this for quite some time.”

The concept of global warming may be hard for people to get their minds around because it is more of a long term trend, he added.

“The expectation is that as time goes on we will see more and more evidence,” Angel said. “The really big changes are 50 to 100 (years) out. It’s hard for people to relate to something that far away, which is a really tough problem.”

Michael Schlesinger, a professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, agreed that one winter or summer is not reliable to determine larger climate change patterns.

“Cooling and warming comes in phases,” Schlesinger said. “We are not the only ones influencing climate, but we are learning more and more that we are a dominant factor.”

Although the past winter was colder than normal in Illinois, officials said this is not a reason to lose faith in the science behind global warming and stop working on solutions to the problems.

“Some will latch on to the skepticism and say global warming isn’t real,” Angel said. “But that is misleading. You really have to step back and look at the data, which is longer term. You can’t use a specific event to argue for or against climate change.”