“What Does Winter Weather Reveal about Global Warming?”

In “What Does Winter Weather Reveal about Global Warming?” Scientific American attempts to straighten out a definitional confusion that pervades our culture:

Ultimately, the storm of blather surrounding recent weather events can largely be blamed on a fundamental misunderstanding. Weather is the day-to-day temperature, humidity and precipitation. Climate is the overall combination of all these events over a long period of time. No single weather event—heat wave, hurricane or blizzard—tells us much about climate.

Repeat after me, class.

WEATHER is day-to-day.
CLIMATE is long term.

WEATHER is day-to-day.
CLIMATE is long term.

WEATHER is day-to-day.
CLIMATE is long term.

WEATHER is day-to-day.
CLIMATE is long term.



8 Responses to ““What Does Winter Weather Reveal about Global Warming?””

  1. comdenom Says:

    Climate is a seasonal average of sunshine, precipitation, arridity and humidity generally used to define a regional weather pattern.

    What happens when moisture evaporates from the earth’s surface and bodies of water? It forms clouds and disperses the moisture somewhere else.

    Mankind cannot be so arrogant to assume we can control or affect the weather. We are but ants in an ant farm occupying 1% of the earth’s surface. We do some rearranging of the earth’s constituents only to find they transform into something else or back to their original constituents by the laws of nature. It’s a never ending cycle, more understandably called an ecosystem. Everything we produce came from the earth’s resources, how could it even be possible to overload the system?

    • uncommonscolds Says:

      Comdenom said, “We are but ants in an ant farm occupying 1% of the earth’s surface.”

      As William Catton and many others have suggested, a better analogy is that we are bacteria in a wine vat.

      • comdenom Says:

        You and William Catton both have a pretty lugubrious view of humanity, what on earth would so sour ones perspective of their own race?

  2. uncommonscolds Says:

    Don’t you mean species, not race? Hope so. Anyway, I’m not “sour” on humanity, but, like Catton, I strive for a realistic view. I wish us the best, but I’m prepared for us to act the way we always have.

    Have you read Catton’s _Overshoot_? If not, I highly recommend it. First published in 1980, it’s aged remarkably well. In fact, it still turns up as a college text.

    There’s also a five part interview with Catton on YouTube that starts here:

    If you watch even a couple of minutes, let me know if you find Catton sour. He doesn’t strike me as sour at all. Instead, I find him a kindly and wise old man.


    • comdenom Says:

      No, I meant human race, encompassing all classifications. I have not read anything of Catton, I did view the video, thanks for the link.

      Catton doesn’t look sour, his philosophy is sour and they’re teaching that in schools. I cannot subscribe to those theories about overpopulation and taxing the ecosystem. Catton was disenfranchised because the campground was a popular weekend spot and he had difficulty finding a suitable site? 1% of the earth’s surface! That would be saying the atmosphere cannot adjust itself and we are not supposed to be here. The earth is in constant motion cleansing, balancing and renewing…that’s what it does, that’s what it was designed to do. As we speak there are new oil reserves in the process of creation, what resources are we in short supply of?

  3. comdenom Says:

    Your header artwork is classy, so is your blog title…I like it.

  4. uncommonscolds Says:


    Thanks so much for this last reply. I now begin to see how our underlying assumptions and/or starting points differ. That’s crucial in any discussion.

    Although I hold strong beliefs, I try to stay away from agendas. Consequently, I warn anyone with a checklist, be it scientific or religious or whatever, to use it carefully. The problem with agendas is that people are fallible. We often misinterpret. The problem is not that the TRUTH doesn’t exist. I think it does, but even if we are in possession of it, how do we know we’re read or listened or interpreted correctly?

    To me, full discussion with an open mind often leads to more clarity. I stress questioning, not just others, but also ourselves. I worry that if we stay within comfortable boundaries we increase the chances that we may have inadvertently turned onto a false path in our own forest.

    I hope I’m on the right path, but I’m not above doing a 90 or even a 180 if proof shows up. My method is basically Socratic in that I stress posing questions and finding answers through research and logic. It doesn’t work all the time, but, as far as I can see, it’s still the best method we have.

    I’m a long-time teacher of college comp and basic research, so my methods and standards involve finding sources, evaluating sources, supporting positions through logic and fact, having others point out errors, revising, presenting again, that sort of thing. As I tell students, I’m not here to tell people WHAT to think, but I am here to teach people HOW to think.

    You bring up some good points in your response and I need to do a bit of research instead of just saying “tungsten” off the top of my head. If it’s OK with you, I’d like to answer you in a new post rather than continue this series of comments. If that’s a problem for you, let me know with a post here or email me privately at uncommonscolds (at sign) yahoo.com.


  5. comdenom Says:

    I rely heavily on logic, also try arriving at the truth from a moral and ethical perspective basically using the same methodologies as you, we are very similar.

    It is heartening to find you teach “how to think” not “what to think”. Although surely not easy to do but a justifiably honorable endeavor with a premium result as your position of authority influences many young minds.

    I’m looking forward to your new post. Thanks for not saying “tungsten” off the top of your head. In the meantime, If you are interested about the sharp things that busted our economic bubble I’ve just posted a really good explanation here; http://comdenom.wordpress.com

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