A group of characters in the book/television series Game of Thrones that represent “the north” have the family catchphrase “Winter is coming.” They say it in context of “it might be nice now, but winter is coming.” They are pretty much the downers they sound like.
Winter is definitely coming around here and with it are the beautiful snows (they are always beautiful the first time) slick roads, car accidents, power outages, and French Toast panics at the grocery store (what else do you do with bread, milk and eggs that get stripped from store shelves when weather forecasters announce winter weather warnings?).
What winter also brings are the inevitable photos on social media of thermometers with sub-freezing temperatures and piles of snow with comments like “What global warming?” We heard a few similar comments like that during the election. “Sure, climate changes all the time. It is raining outside right now.”
Climate is not weather. My daughters learned the difference in their Seventh Grade science text books.
- Climate is the “Condition of the atmosphere at a particular location over a long period of time (from one month to many millions of years, but generally 30 years).”
- Weather is the “state of the air and atmosphere at a particular time and place: the temperature and other outside conditions (such as rain, cloudiness, etc.) at a particular time and place.”
If you take away nothing else from this column, I hope it is to avoid looking foolish by confusing the two.
A couple years ago, I met a man from Norway, who happens to have a home in the Eastern Panhandle. He told me his hometown has trouble staging their annual winter games for lack of snow. The last two winter Olympics had trouble with warm weather and missing snow. In the arctic, the sea ice that makes up the top of the world has retreated significantly over the last 30 years or so (climate) but the October averages show sea ice is on the increase compared to summer (weather).
I believe the earth’s climate is warming. I believe the pollution we’ve dumped into the atmosphere has played a role in that. That said, I don’t feel the need to “convince” anyone of anything. Frankly, I don’t think it’s possible. You’re going to believe what you want to believe. Most people search for information online and disregard what doesn’t say what they want to hear. They click on links that support their beliefs.
Right now, there is a $500,000 prize for someone who can prove, scientifically, that global warming is true. There is also a $30,000 prize, funded by a scientist for anyone who can prove it isn’t real. Neither has been claimed.
But please, stop dismissing people who disagree with you using with over-simplified arguments like, “It’s raining outside…”. It just makes you look silly and galvanizes the conversation, making discussion impossible.
Remember, winter is coming..