08 July 2010

Take note: climate is warming but weather is variable

By: Kaavya Nag

Do you sometimes feel, like I do right now, that unless people are convinced 'beyond reasonable doubt' that the climate is indeed changing, no amount of scientific fact is going to make Mohammed go to the mountain? 
Why has it become so convenient to confuse weather and climate?

The 2009 cold wave in Europe and some parts of North America was all it took to bring down the average confidence in the threat of climate change.

"If its so cold, how can the climate change"?

Unfortunately, even scientists have to get defensive about their positions, reiterating that global temperatures (the planet as a whole) continue to rise, 'regardless of the fact that some parts of the United States are now experiencing an atypically cold weather'.

Now that there is a heat wave in the United States and North America (July 8th 2010), climate change has 're-become' the culprit for the extreme temperatures. 

But for how long will this heat-wave remain in public memory?
Obama might make impassioned statements defending climate change; Ban ki-Moon might do so too. Scientists may come out in the defense of other fellow scientists, and US Government scientists might try to take a dig at climate skeptics. But these are not the real 'convincers'.

Opinion is shaped by reading (or listening or watching) the same convincing (need not mean true) arguments again and again. And if every second newspaper article says 'yes we have soaring temperatures, but ...', or,'yes there is a cold wave, so don't you see ...?', what would you believe? 

At the least, you would start doubting that climate change is real.
I ask why well educated individuals writing in the public domain make it so easy to blinker themselves to some fundamental differences between weather and climate. Focusing on short periods of time to prove that global warming is not occurring is a misuse of the definition of climate, as much as it is a misleading way to use statistics.

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