Weather is not Climate, and Vice-Versa

iStock_000012121169SmallYou may not believe in climate change, or you may know someone who doesn’t, but that doesn’t change the facts: the Earth is getting warmer and we humans are in for a hell of a ride. That’s the great thing about science – it’s true whether you believe in it or not. Unfortunately, even in the face of actual facts and evidence, a large segment of the population still doesn’t want to believe. But if any of them live in certain areas of the United States, they are about to get slapped in the face by reality.

According to ABC News, while the United States’ annual average temperature has gone up 1.2 degrees in the last 30 years, all but one state (North Dakota) has seen a warming pattern during that time. But it’s the Northeast of the Southwest that has seen the most drastic increases.

A recent analysis of federal temperature records tracked by the National Climatic Data Center shows that the two states heating up the fastest in the continental U.S. are Maine and Vermont? Surprised? Me too. Having lived in New England for the first 18 years of my life, it’s hard to believe that climate change could be hitting that area the hottest. Unfortunately, it’s true, with those two states gaining 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit (on average) in the past 30 years. That’s including winter months!

At the opposite corner of the country, New Mexico and Texas are heating up the most in the summer months, up 3.4 degrees and 2.8 degrees respectively. I have also lived in New Mexico and plan to move back yet again, but the possibility of killer drought is putting a little bit of hesitation in my step, so to speak.

Weather may be local, but climate is not. So while your climate change denier friend can yell about it being cold in his backyard, that doesn’t mean global warming isn’t happening and we’re headed for the next ice age. Kelly Redmond, a climatologist at the Western Regional Climate Center in Nevada, says “In the United States, it isn’t warming equally. Be careful about extrapolating from your own backyard to the globe.” After all, if it were raining in your driveway, would you believe it to be raining in Grandma’s driveway as well, 1,000 miles away in Florida? Exactly. Weather does not equal climate. According to NASA, the difference is as follows:

The difference between weather and climate is a measure of time. Weather is what conditions of the atmosphere are over a short period of time, and climate is how the atmosphere “behaves” over relatively long periods of time. When we talk about climate change, we talk about changes in long-term averages of daily weather.

I recently read a book about the Dust Bowl titled The Worst Hard Time which was a phenomenal book. It wasn’t your typical bland history book; instead, it took a look at the actual lives of people living during that time. It was entertaining, hard to put down, and depressing as all hell. If we aren’t considered to be in another dust bowl-type time, we will be shortly. Just Google “Colorado Drought” and you’ll find recent articles stating that some states are already seeing conditions worse than those during the official Dust Bowl”

The fact is that climate change is real, the weather is being affected, and those living in the Northeast and Southwest are among the first to see the effect first-hand. I am not sure at what point the average “every-person” in this country will take notice, but I imagine when summers are unbearable, storms destroy more property, and food shortages start happening, a lot of people will wake up. Unfortunately, it may be too late.


Weather is not Climate, and Vice-Versa — 2 Comments

  1. In our area, it really seems like the seasons are shifting. I guess it’s probably just weather even though it seems like a pretty strong pattern to me because I haven’t been alive long enough to see a full 30 year climate window. It does seem rather silly when people say global warming isn’t happening because it’s snowing in their backyard. Denial of facts in order to prioritize politics?

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