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The Difference Between Weather and Climate?

Difference Between Weather and ClimateSome climate change deniers refuse to acknowledge the difference between weather and climate. One U.S.Senator brought a snowball into the senate chambers from outside and declared that it proved that global warming, AKA, climate change was a hoax. Is this just willful ignorance or does this man really believe that nonsense?

I recall a 2006 government report that predicted more snow along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States due to climate change. The reasoning behind this prediction was that the amount of moisture in the atmosphere was increasing significantly. Also, if a typical winter day comes in at 28 degrees instead of 25 because the climate is warming; there will be more snow because the nearer the freezing point the temperature is, the more snow usually falls. Therefore, as illogical as it might seem at first glance, there is an actual correlation between climate change and an increasing amount of snow. And remember, this prediction was for the Eastern Seaboard, exactly where the Senator found his snowball.

Apparently I do Need to Explain the Difference Between Weather and Climate

But the most common issue I see with climate change deniers is a total inability to distinguish between weather and climate. They really are completely different things. A common sentiment that I have heard vocalized and seen in print is that…

‘You can’t control the weather so what is all this climate change fuss all about?’…

True indeed! You can’t control the weather. But climate science is not about controlling weather. We are talking about climate. And climate is something that humans can have an impact on.

What is weather?

Weather is what is happening in the atmosphere now, today, and how it is affecting people and their current activities. Weather can change day-to-day, hour-to-hour and even minute-by-minute. We try to predict the weather coming over the next few days so that people can plan accordingly. Is it going to rain or snow, how hard will the wind blow, will it be really hot tomorrow or very cold? Should I be prepared for a coming disaster like a possible flood or a hurricane? These are some of the questions that weather forecasters are concerned with.

What is climate?

Climate is a description of the long-term weather patterns in a given area. For example, you might ask, what are the trends happening with the weather patterns like in the Southwestern United States over the last 40 years? You would look at the averages of temperature, rainfall and wind speed during the period in question. And among other things, they would look at the frequency and severity of storms and how those are trending.

These trends will indicate to the scientists studying the data whether or not the climate of that region is changing. We study these issues because they affect people all over the world. As temperatures go up and sea levels rise, literally hundreds of millions of people will be affected. As you can plainly see, there is a very big difference between weather and climate.

Can’t Control Weather but What About Controlling Climate?

The answer to that is a big sometimes. Can we control the consequences of a super-volcanic out-gassing? No. what if the earth is blasted by a large asteroid like what happened 65 million years ago? You’re probably going to die. And make no mistake about it, events like these, when they occur, are about big-time climate change.

But what is happening today is profoundly different. We do have the ability to choose a course. One choice leads to a bright future. The other one leads to environmental chaos and suffering. I wish I could say I am confident that a bright future awaits us but it’s not looking good. We continue to increase the amount of carbon burned every year.

The climate is what you expect; the weather is what you get.

What did we think would happen if we took vast amounts of coal, oil and gas out of the ground that, thru natural processes, literally took 10s of millions of years to accumulate; and then burned incredibly vast amounts in just a few hundred years? The earth’s natural processes do not have the ability to deal with that much carbon in such a short amount of time. Global warming, climate change, whatever you want to call was inevitable.

Unfortunately, I do need to explain the difference between weather and climate. It should be an easy concept to understand. But I fear that climate deniers ae not interested in the truth. Because if they did recognize the severity of the problem, they would need to do something about it. And they are more interested in maintaining the status quo than concerning themselves with the future.


Climate vs. Weather

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