Political Insider

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A UGA prof’s reminder: Record cold doesn’t refute climate change

Call it fortuitous timing. Hours before U.S. President Donald Trump issued his latest tweet panning climate change, a University of Georgia climatologist offered a lengthy preemptive explanation.

“What we are seeing right now in the United States is just...well...wait for it... winter,” wrote Marshall Shepherd, director of the atmospheric science program at the University of Georgia and a former president of the American Meteorological Society.

Shepherd wrote that he would urge people to keep in mind that “weather is mood, climate is personality” and that weekly weather patterns say little about longer-term climate change.

It came about 12 hours before Trump tweeted that forecasts call for record cold New Year’s Eve temperatures.

Shepherd wrote that even as climate warms, the seasons will always change to winter and yield frigid weather, snowstorms and blizzards. After all, he said, winter is related to how the Earth is tilted on its axis as it revolves around the sun.

Concludes Shepherd:

For now, the message for this week and the next 7 days is that winter is reminding us that it still exists and always will even as our climate warms. Prepare accordingly, stay warm, and help others.

Insider’s note: A previous version of the story incorrectly noted the timing of Shepherd’s post. It came shortly before Trump’s tweet.

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.