Does Sterling Burnett actually believe what he says about global warming?

Read time: 3 mins

UPDATE: NASA has released it’s 2008 temperature data finding that last year was the ninth warmest year since 1880.

Sterling Burnett, a “senior fellow” at the oil industry friendly National Center for Policy Analysis is claiming in a release today that global warming is a hoax because it is cold in Minnesota this winter. Really?

If only Burnett were right, we could move on and forget about this whole global warming thing. Unfortunately, Burnett is way off base which is no surprise considering this is the same Fox News pundit that compared Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth to Nazi war-time propaganda. It looks like Burnett has a penchant for making grandiose claims, most likely because they get him facetime on Fox News.

Burnett and the NCPA’s press release today declaring that “global warming is likely not a result of man-made activities” conveniently omits two key facts that seriously bring into question Burnett’s understanding of the basics:

1. Climate versus weather: the Nobel prize-winning climate scientist Dr. Andrew Weaver recently opined in a news article that, “Every time there is a freaking snowfall, it seems like everybody is going, ‘What’s going on?’ It’s frustrating as a climate scientist.”’

It’s frustrating for Weaver because people (i.e. Sterling Burnett) get climate and weather confused. In the article “Snowstorms don’t mean climate change threat has passed” Weaver describes weather as “what is here and now, like the sun shining or rain falling. Climate, on the other hand, is more long-term.”

Weaver explained climate change as a “shift in the distribution of the likelihood of the occurrence of weather events towards the warm”. He continued, “What that means is it doesn’t mean that it will never be cold; it means that the likelihood of it being cold diminishes with time, and the likelihood of it being extremely warm increases with time.”

You would think that someone like Sterling Burnett, who goes around touting himself as a “leading authority” would understand something so fundamental as the difference between weather and climate.

2. It is “global” warming, not “United States” warming: using a cold snap in Minnesota as an argument that the entire earth is not warming is just ridiculous. The bottom line is that when you look at the global trends, the average temperature of the planet continues to rise. Here’s a graph of the global temperatures over the last 126 years:

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And here’s a great video made by the famous broadcaster and Naturalist Sir David Attenborough (of Planet Earth fame) explaining very clearly what is happening with the earth’s global temperature:

Now I’m not a scientist and neither is Burnett, but all of this commonsense information about climate versus weather and global temperatures leads me to believe that *gasp* maybe Burnett is not the “leading authority” he claims himself to be. Nothing new here, sorry everyone, but regardless of what Burnett wants us to think, global warming is happening, human activity is to blame and the best science is telling us that the consequences will be dire.

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Everyone understands the difference between weather and climate and yet everyone points to convenient momentary weather events as evidence of climate trends. Everyone does it.