CBS Blames Global Warming for Harsh Winter Weather
As a snow storm beared (sic) down on the east coast on Thursday, CBS This Morning sought to lay blame on global warming, with the headline on screen fretting: "Extreme Weather; Are These Kinds of Storms, Droughts Unprecedented?"
Here is a full transcript of the February 13 segment: (emphasis mine)
NORAH O'DONNELL: As another major storm system hits the south and the east, sub-zero temperatures still grip the Midwest. And western Oregon and Washington state were hit with unusual snow.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Extreme Weather; Are These Kinds of Storms, Droughts Unprecedented?]
CHARLIE ROSE: Well, and California just got about twenty inches of rain from a pineapple express, but that state is far from ending its drought emergency. CBS News contributor Michio Kaku is a physics professor at the City College of New York. Good morning.
MICHIO KAKU: Good morning.
ROSE: So what's causing all this?
KAKU: Well, the wacky weather could get even wackier. What we're seeing is that the jet stream and the polar vortex are becoming unstable. Instability of historic proportions. Now think of the polar vortex as a bucket, a swirling bucket of cold air. However, the walls are weakening. Cold air is spilling out, spilling out over the walls of the bucket. And the question is, why? Why is this polar vortex weakening? We think it's because of the gradual heating up of the North Pole. The North Pole is melting.
ROSE: Global warming.
KAKU: That excess heat -- that excess heat generated by all this warm water is destabilizing this gigantic bucket of cold air, weakening this low pressure region, causing cold air to spill out over the United States. So that's the irony, that heating could cause gigantic storms of historic proportions.
GAYLE KING: Would you the the [inaudible] please.
KING: No, I'm kidding, I'm kidding. Go ahead, Norah.
O'DONNELL: We get this spilling out of the bucket, right? So but we see this snow in the Midwest and the south, why then has California been the driest on record? I mean, look at the snow pack in the Sierra's. Any skier knows out there they have so little snow pack. Huge drought.
KAKU: Because a lot of the weather, the warm -- the moisture-laden air which should go to California is being diverted into Canada, where it freezes, and it falls on your backyard. So in some sense there's the link between what's happening in California as the jet stream diverts, diverts the moisture-laden air over Canada and then it snows on the United States.
KING: I'm trying to follow you. I'm really trying to follow you. But does this explain why Niagra Falls is frozen and why it's warm in Sochi? It's all connected to the same thing, correct?
KAKU: It's connected. If you take a look at...
KING: Globally, yeah.
KAKU: ...at the jet stream, you see that England is flooding right now, Latin America is warm, while California has a drought. We're talking about instabilities caused by the eratic nature of the jet stream-
KING: What can be done about it, Professor? Anything we can actually do about it?
KAKU: Well, the bad news is that the north polar region continues to rise in temperature, it seems to be irreversible at a certain point, so we may have to get used to a new normal. That is, a north polar region that is melting, causing more instability in this bucket, causing more things to spill out, which means more extremes. Some winters could be very mild, other winters could be horrendous.
O'DONNELL: And you said 2014 is gonna be the hottest on record?
KAKU: It's shaping up that this year could be one of the hottest years on record. The decade that just passed, it was the hottest decade ever recorded in the history of science.
ROSE: Michio, you know if this physics thing doesn't work out, you can be a weather man.
O'DONNELL: You could try it.
KING: Professor, thank you very much. I think he's speechless.