Commentary: Winter's extremes are symptom of global warming

The weather is unsettling this winter. Florida has had a record number of cold days this year after going through one of the hottest Decembers on record. Meanwhile, massive winter storms have blanketed the Eastern Seaboard and Southeastern United States with record snow falls.

The weird weather has brought out the global warming skeptics. How can the Earth be heating up, they say, if we're having such cold weather?

What they forget is that one of the outcomes of global warming predicted by scientists is more extremes in our weather. Bigger storms, longer and more widespread droughts, excessive precipitation in some places unaccustomed to much rain and so forth. Global warming isn't just affecting our annual weather cycles but, albeit much more gradually, our overall climatic conditions.

Don't look for subtropical South Florida to turn into either equatorial Africa or chilly Northern Canada in the coming decades. But do look for more of what we've seen recently: Weather-wise, the 2000s were warmer than the previous decade -- and the 1990s were warmer than the 1980s.

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