Here there be monsters (socratic) wrote,
Here there be monsters

How about that global warm--FUCK IT'S COLD

One of the interesting things about having a scientific perspective on the world is that you realize just how inaccurate our senses and 'intuitions' can be. To the touch it seems like the wall in your living room is made of solid matter, while the air around you contains hardly any. In point of fact both substances contain roughly the same amount of empty space. It is merely the configurations of various particles, and their relation to one another, that differ.

Likewise we have global warming. Until the past couple of days the East Coast of the United States had not experienced much in the way of "Winter weather." People were walking around in shorts and t-shirts in Central Park and even going to the beach. Of course this was attributed to global warming. "I didn't believe in global warming before, but now..."

Such anecdotal evidence is, of course, ludicrous. If it's 72 degrees on a day when it's normally 40 that doesn't mean that the earth has warmed by a staggering 32 degrees. If it had then California would be sweltering and Denver would not be snowed in. Most scientists believe that the earth has warmed by about 1 degree due to human activity, something that's hardly noticeable. Of course it's possible that global warming influenced patterns of currents in the air and water which led to us getting a bunch of warm Gulf of Mexico air instead of cold Canadian air this last week, but scientists don't understand weather patterns well enough to really model this out.

For the same reason the fact that there were no named hurricanes last year shouldn't do anything to dispel the notion that global warming will increase hurricane intensity. You might as well say that George Burns proves that smoking extends the lifespan.

Now it's cold in the East, frigid really, and people are going to forget about the warm weather and the troubles of global warming and go skiing. But the fact that it's cold shouldn't matter any more than the fact that it was warm should. Instead we should rely on objective measures like average temperature over time and throughout the world, the state of the ice caps, and predictive models of what will happen if we continue to behave as we have.

Anecdotal evidence is relatively useless compared to scientific study. We should acknowledge that and act accordingly.
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