Serge Zaka, agroclimatologist from Montpellier, explains why the mild spell at the end of December in Montpellier and France is exceptional. The expert also explains how the cold snap that hit North America is instrumentalized by climate skeptics on social networks.
Is the thaw observed in Montpellier as in France abnormal?
Yes. The climatic norm for the end of December is 5°, here we are around 13.5°. The deviation from the norm is greater than 8°, so it is greater than the heat waves of this summer. This thaw, with temperatures between 13° and 22° in France, goes unnoticed because it does not cause damage to agriculture or affect humans. However, this will be the first or second biggest anomaly of the year.
What is it due to?
This thaw is caused by southwesterly winds, a normal situation in France. But in a warmer environment, when the wind turns south, the air that rises is warmer. We must not do like the climatosceptics who take an event to generalize it to the whole of the century. This is the eleventh event of excess to the standards of 2022. And it is the hottest year that we have ever observed in France since the start of the measurements. There is a tendency towards the accentuation of abnormal hot events. On the contrary, we had two cold periods this year, April and the beginning of December, without breaking any cold records. There is an imbalance between 80% record heat and 20% record concentrated cold in April.
We talk a lot about the cold snap in North America, it was also exceptional.
Climate change is not the disappearance of cold spells overnight. They are shorter, less intense and less numerous. America has a continental climate with peaks of cold or mild winters. This descent of cold produced a historic record and caused more than 50 deaths. We cannot minimize it. But we have to look at what happened over this period on the whole planet. When averaged globally, this descent of cold air is drowned out by heat events that occurred at the same time. The anomaly on the planetary scale amounts to + 0.5°. 90% of the days of the year 2022 the planet was overheated: we are between + 1° or + 2° compared to the standards of the last thirty years.
Aren’t you tired of fighting climate skeptics like you always do on Twitter?
It is my scientific and Cartesian character that is expressed. I put science back at the heart of the debate when I see very popular accounts on Twitter, with more than 30,000 subscribers, sometimes elected officials, who improvise themselves as climatologists by commenting on specific cold weather events to divert attention from climate change. Climatology is a science, not an opinion. Unfortunately, scientists do not speak out enough to counter these doubts about climate change. They are false. My role is not to stay in my money tower and work for scientists. I would like the research to be read by politicians and the general public. This is my role as a popularizer on social networks. Questioning has direct consequences on our civic action. Some may welcome the arguments of climate skeptics as admissible when they are false. The word of scientists on the necessary reduction of greenhouse gases is drowned. What follows is inaction and that is not what we need!
“Climate cooling”: when Serge Zaka flushes out climate skeptics
Serge Zaka regularly crosses swords on social networks to defeat the arguments of climate skeptics. He thus deciphered the use of the two words “climate cooling”. He thus identified two types of users: scientists on the one hand, a sphere linked to the extreme right on the other. “They use for example the argument of the cycle of the sun which is unfounded. Its influence is negligible compared to human activity and greenhouse gas emissions.”
53,000 followers on Twitter
Serge Zaka, 53,000 followers on his Twitter account, strives to respond in a reasoned way – “figures, a map or a graph” – whenever he can. “I’m not trying to convince every climate skeptic but my answer is like a warning message for readers. My comments have more views than their posts which are false. This takes away some visibility…