Short term vs. long term
Q: If we're so worried about global warming why has it been so cold here in the U.S., in Europe and other parts of the globe? What do weather statistics say has happened during the past 50 years? And how does weather differ from climate (is there a difference)?
I don't think anyone would believe that weather and climate are the same thing anymore than that one's mood and personality are equal. We all have moods that don't accurately describe our overall personality. However if mood swings become more and more frequent, then perhaps we are being warned that a problem, physical or emotional, might be causing our personality to change and a doctor needs to be summoned. If we are consistently seeing weather patterns changing in one direction, then perhaps we need to examine why it is happening.
A period of 50 years might be long enough to detect a pattern in individual weather conditions, usually measured by temperature, that could mean a change in climate. Even if the planet is warming, a cold winter in the Northern latitudes doesn't mean the earth is really getting colder or even staying the same. It is just as wrong to use a hot season to support global warming as it is to use a colder one to debunk the theory.
As I've written before, it seems that most of us interested in possible climate change come to the examining table with preconceived notions rather than open minds. We feed on information that supports our point of view rather than looking objectively at the long term facts. And this is true for both sides of the controversy. Perhaps a starting point could be that we all agree that our couple of current generations are the stewards of what we will environmentally pass along to future caretakers.
January 13, 2010; 8:15 AM ET
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