No, the Earth’s jet streams are not spinning out of control

Winds in the 250mb level of the atmosphere, as seen on June 29. (credit: by Ars)

There are plenty of reasons to be concerned about the Earth's climate, from rising seas to droughts and intense heat waves. But amidst these concerns there is the potential for hyperbole, and we saw some of that flare up during the last few days, when two protagonists put forward the idea that the planet's jet streams are spinning out of control.

One of the people making this claim was Paul Beckwith, a self-described "well-known climate science educator," who noted that the jet stream in the Northern Hemisphere has crossed the equator and joined up with the jet stream in the Southern Hemisphere. "Welcome to climate chaos," Beckwith wrote. "We must declare a global climate emergency." He then encouraged readers to donate to his site. Another person, Robert Scribbler, declared that the jet stream was now wrecked. These claims went viral.

It sounds terrible, of course, and we definitely need to be concerned with rising levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases playing havoc with global atmospheric circulations. But in this case, we can probably view these claims as a bit of hot air.

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