Climate and weather are closely related concepts, but they are not the same thing. Confusion of climate vs weather makes the climate change debate more complicated than it needs to be.
Temperatures are warming faster at the poles than the rest of the planet. The North Pole has warmed twice as fast as anywhere else according to the National Snow & Ice Data Center. What, exactly, that means for global climate is not yet known. That doesn’t stop people from making unwarranted climate statements on the basis of weather.
This winter, subfreezing temperatures have extended as far south as Mexico. The blast of arctic air overwhelmed the electric grid in Texas and caused widespread power outages. Some residents lacked electricity, and therefore heat, for multiple days.
Climate change activists have been quick to see it as a result of climate change. Climate change deniers have been quick to wonder, given that record cold, where the climate change is.
Does the climate change debate follow the science?
Climate change advocates, at least, quickly attribute their views to “scientists,” but don’t necessarily site any particular studies.
Paul Ehrlich, surely the most over-rated scientist of the 20th century, popularized two of the biggest frauds of the environmental movement. In the 1960s and 70s, he predicted worldwide famine and an ice age, both before the end of the century. Of course, neither catastrophe happened. But Ehrlich still hasn’t admitted he was wrong, and climate activists still take his false claims seriously.
So when you see “scientists” in climate change warnings, stop to think. Are any particular scientists identified in that context? Are they climate experts, or, like Ehrlich, speaking beyond their knowledge outside their areas of expertise?
I claim no expertise of my own, but I can at least point out the difference between climate and weather.
Global climate – is it warming?
But climate normals are still local measurements. On any given day, Massachusetts, Kansas, and Arizona will have very different climate normals. Climate normals on that same day at the poles, along the equator, or anywhere in Australia will be greatly different from any in the US.
Global climate refers to the averages of all the regional differences. In recent decades, average global temperature has been increasing.
It hasn’t been a linear increase. A temporary decrease in average global temperatures in the mid-20th century led Ehrlich and other prominent scientists with no expertise in climate studies to warn about a coming ice age.
Their bad predictions have led many people to dismiss the global warming that we are experiencing now. And the wilder predictions of looming catastrophe made by too many activists today aren’t any more scientifically based. Too often, they depend on confusion of climate vs weather.
Yet consider: The Arctic Ocean, perpetually frozen for centuries, has recently become navigable in the summer. Glaciers have been retreating for at least a century.
Climate scientists expect rising global temperatures to raise sea levels. Some heavily populated coastal areas may even become uninhabitable. Rising temperatures may also lead to more extreme weather patterns.
Now, what may happen is not at all the same thing as what will happen. Many of the shrill warnings in the media today are simply irresponsible. So are blanket dismissals of climate change.
But at least, let’s read and listen carefully. Ignore any argument that appeals to fear or tries to describe what’s happening to the climate in terms of what’s happening in the weather.
1981-2010 U.S. climate normal / National Centers for Environmental Information
How climate change is driving a deep freeze into Texas / Earth.org. February 18, 2021
What’s the difference between weather and climate? / National Centers for Environmental Information