Monday, February 15, 2010

Climate vs. Weather: Get a Brain! Morans!

All in all, this has been a pretty mild winter for Alaska.  Southcentral Alaska, for sure.  

We've had a few cold snaps, we've had some chinooks, but overall, not too bad... and now, in mid-February, we seem to be headed for an early spring.  My fingers are crossed on that one.

When I was a kid, I'm pretty sure we had more severe and longer winters than we do now, but that could just be me.  Memories from childhood often get "modified" over time, and one shouldn't place too much stock in anecdotal  information... except that village elders from across Alaska seem to verify my memory.  

Over the course of several decades, things are changing.  That change has not always been good.

I'm not saying global climate change itself is not a natural cycle, but I think it's absolutely stupid to think that in the last 150 years or so, world-wide industrialization and emission of greenhouse gasses hasn't exacerbated the problem.

So, when I hear "experts on everything" like Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Chris Wallace shouting out how the recent snow storms in the eastern and southern US are "proof" that climate change is false, it annoys the hell out of me.

The only thing their statements  "prove" is either their ignorance, or their willful desire to misinform and mislead.  The smart money is on the latter.

There's a huge difference between "climate" and "weather."

This morning, I was listening to a story on National Public Radio (NPR) "Morning Edition" by Christopher Joyce (a correspondent on the science desk at on NPR), and the story gave listeners one of the most succinct and accurate explanations of the difference as I've ever heard:

A storm is part of what scientists classify as weather. Weather is largely influenced by local conditions and changes week to week. It's fickle — fraught with wild ups and downs.
Climate is the long-term trend of atmospheric conditions across large regions, even the whole planet. Changes in climate are slow and measured in decades, not weeks.(emphasis mine)
Can't the talking heads on Fox News  or the right-wing deniers of climate change grasp that concept?  
Of course they can, but it doesn't suit their political agenda to engage in facts.  Making shit up is more their style.

Remember, we're talking about a group of people who are working hard to re-write the history of the G. W. Bush administration, and blame it all President Obama.

Given that, what else could we expect from them?


Souldotna said...

Climate is like those stock market charts- the lines stagger up and down, but the general trend generally goes in one direction. And in the past 100 years, the general trend with temperatures has been upward.

What I don't get is that if we make the world a cleaner, efficient, self-sustaining place, and it turns out that global warming is not as bad as we think it might be, just what is the problem with being cleaner, more efficient and self-sustaining?

Wolfe Tone said...

I don't get the deniers' logic, either, Soul.

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