Opinion: Polar vortex makes world cold

As this is being written, the temperature outside the Tribune offices is a balmy 61 degrees. The coldest it got over the last 24 hours was 50 degrees, so all in all, for a winter day, things are not bad.

Elsewhere, however, the weather is not as comfortable. Here are some of the headlines:

“Polar vortex to grip Midwest with most extreme cold in a generation” (The New York Times)

“Midwest prepares for subzero polar vortex” (The Wall Street Journal)

“Polar vortex hits the Midwest with live-threatening cold temperatures” (National Public Radio)

“Polar vortex to slam U.S. with life-threatening cold” (Reuters)

There seems to be no doubt the U.S. is in the grip of an extremely cold event.

What is a polar vortex? Here is what the Weather Service says: “The polar vortex is a large area of low pressure and cold air surrounding both of the Earth’s poles. It ALWAYS exists near the poles, but weakens in summer and strengthens in winter. The term ‘vortex’ refers to the counter-clockwise flow of air that helps keep the colder air near the Poles.

Well, that certainly makes a lot of sense. In other words, the polar vortex is caused by cold air. Or is it a case of cold air being caused by the polar vortex?

I grew up in Idaho, and in the winter — starting in mid-autumn and ending in mid-spring — the whole state is a polar vortex, and a cold one at that.

I went to college in the Midwest, where during a polar vortex nobody could sit down because their butts were frozen off. The air a person exhaled tinkled as it hit the ground.

What I want to know is, where is global warming when you need it?

Since 2007, no less a personage than the former vice president of the United States, Al Gore, has been predicting that much of the ice on the North Pole would be melted.

That apparently is not the case.

Where does he get this stuff? Is he actually as dumb as a lot of people think he is? People quote his book, “An Inconvenient Truth” as though it actually were true, when most of his claims have been debunked by people who know something about the climate, such as those poor folks trying to walk a block or two in the polar vortex that is freezing the bricks off the skyscrapers in Milwaukee.

Of course, Gore does not live anywhere near Milwaukee. Rather, he lives sometimes in a 4,040 square foot brick-faced Tudor home in the Arlington Ridge neighborhood in Arlington, Virginia, and at other times in a 10,070-square-foot Greek Revival home on 2.09 acres in the Belle Meade area of Nashville, Tennessee, and at other times at the family farm in rural Carthage, Tennessee. He also purchased a home in Montecito, Calif., which he has owned since 2009.

He probably never really feels the cold because he generates his own hot air.