Sorry, USA Today, Weather Isn’t Getting Weirder or More Extreme

USA Today ran a story titled, “The weather is getting cold. Global warming is still making weather weird.” Both the second half of the headline and the story underlying it are false. Data refutes claims that weather has been unusual in recent years. Winters are still cold, with some places being colder and receiving more snow than others as has been true throughout history. Also summers are still hot with some regions being hotter and more prone droughts and heatwaves, than others.

Dinah Voyles Pulver, writing for USA Today says:

[Researchers are] compiling increasing evidence that climate change is bringing weirder weather, even in frigid locations like this northeastern landmark.

Notoriously fickle, the world’s weather is lurching from one extreme to another more often and to a greater degree as the warming atmosphere pushes natural variability to new extremes, breaking records time and again, the researchers say.

Human-induced climate change alters the intensity, frequency and duration of many extreme events during every season of the year, according to the report. Drought, flooding and wildfire are becoming more frequent and severe, with cascading effects in every part of the country.

There is no evidence whatsoever that weather is wildly swinging from one extreme to the other in a way that it has not done in the past, outside of unjustifiably alarming mainstream media headlines proclaiming it. The data just doesn’t support the claim.

Specifically, contrary to Pulver and USA Today’s claims, as discussed in Climate At A Glance: Drought and across dozens of Climate Realism articles, here, here, here, and here, for example, data refutes claims that droughts in the United States or globally have increased in number or intensity in recent years. The earth certainly hasn’t experienced any of the 100 year or longer droughts that research shows have occurred multiple times in past centuries and millennia, long before humans began pumping large amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Nor have wildfires or floods increased in frequency, intensity, or duration outside of their historical norms amidst recent modest warming, as data presented in Climate At A Glance: U.S. Wildfires, Climate At A Glance: Floods, and articles at Climate Realism discussing flood and wildfire trends demonstrate.

In the end, the USA Today’s story on weird weather is wrong on almost every testable claim made in it. Scientists’ anecdotes and impressions aside, no real-world data exists suggesting that weather in recent decades is getting weirder, however defined, or that extreme weather events are becoming more common or severe when they occur. Sorry, Pulver and USA Today, climate change can’t be causing something that isn’t happening. Such a claim is laughably false.

H. Sterling Burnett
H. Sterling Burnett
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D., is the Director of the Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News. In addition to directing The Heartland Institute's Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy, Burett puts Environment & Climate News together, is the editor of Heartland's Climate Change Weekly email, and the host of the Environment & Climate News Podcast.

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  1. Weird is what we call the zealot global hoax activists! How they get the chutzpah to claim everything is due to climate change when it’s just normal weather variance is amazing! If they only did their homework and studied the actual numbers they might realize they are wrong! Don’t hold your breath!


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