For a brief moment Tuesday night, ESPN turned into Fox News.
During the network’s broadcast of a basketball game between Tennessee and LSU, announcer Brad Nessler remarked on how cold it was in Baton Rouge, which wasn’t exempt from the “polar vortex” that brought record low temperatures to much of the nation. That’s when analyst Jimmy Dykes chimed in, using the cold weather to argue that climate change (née global warming) doesn’t exist.
“I saw two guys today on a national talk show, they were arguing whether or not global warming was still taking place,” Dykes said. “I only listened to 30 seconds of it, but the guy saying, ‘No it has not,’ I think he won the debate. Seriously, like, is this on?”
After laughing through Dykes’ mini-rant, Nessler jumped back in: “I was talking to my brother in Minnesota before tip-off. It’s about 50 below wind chill there, so there’s no global warming in that part of the country.”
Watch it, via Media Matters, which first spotted it:
Let’s clear one thing up, since apparently we still have to: cold weather does not disprove climate change. The fact that it is snowing outside your house does not disprove climate change. Cold weather in a small part of the world is proof that it is winter there, not that climate change across the globe doesn’t exist.
In fact, for a host of complicated reasons my colleague Emily Atkin explained earlier this week, some scientists think the spread of colder-than-normal temperatures to typically milder climates may actually be caused, in part, by climate change. Another scientist Emily talked to thought the polar vortex was more likely an odd weather phenomenon, though he did agree that climate change has had an impact on “all weather events.”
Regardless of what caused the cold temperatures that sparked Nessler and Dykes’ skepticism, 97 percent of scientists agree that human-caused climate change is taking place. As Joe Romm, another colleague of mine, has explained, the idea that climate change/global warming is no longer occurring is false for several reasons, including that the previous decade was the warmest on record.
Though Dykes may not care, ESPN should: climate change is already affecting football, ice hockey, surfing, and other sports the network probably cares about. If it needs evidence, ESPN could ask the representatives of all four major sports leagues plus the U.S. Olympic Committee who appeared on Capitol Hill in December to talk about the ways climate change is already hurting them, their fans, and people who play their sports at lower levels.
Dykes, who later defended his position by tweeting that “it’s 3 degrees where I stand right now : ),” should probably try to catch more than 30 seconds of the debate next time. By the way, it’s 64 degrees in Baton Rouge today.