UN Dispatch Offers Primer On Weather, For The Hopelessly Confused

In the climate change debate, there is on one level a sensible and ongoing debate where scientists and lawmakers hash out the best policy responses, and then there is another level where people believe that the existence of snow proves that global warming is not happening.

And then there is the tendency of nearly everyone to joke about wintertime cold spells by quipping, "Hey, whatever happened to that global warming stuff!" I'm sure that legit climate change experts make these jokes, for fun, they just dare not email those jokes to one another anymore, for fear that Russian hackers will document it as evidence of a massive cover-up, for reasons too baffling to understand.


The pre-K hosts of "Fox and Friends" recently made such a joke, as a part of their larger attempts to grapple with wit. They are, to be sure, the sort of low-hanging fruit that are best described as root vegetables, but for the sake of a teachable moment, UN Dispatch contributor Matthew Cordell decided to take on "the 'it's cold outside, global warming must be over' meme" by unleashing some junior high earth science. To wit:

From this primer (pdf):

When you watch the weatherman on TV, you often hear about the highs and lows of the day, humidity levels and precipitation. But sometimes on TV you also see advertisements for places to vacation claiming that their location has a hot and sunny beach climate or a cold and snowy location that is great for skiing. If climate and weather both describe temperature and precipitation, what is the difference?

Weather is "the conditions in the atmosphere in a certain place during a certain time. Weather is always changing [emphasis mine]."

Climate is "what the weather is generally like over long periods of time, such as years or decades in a particular area. A place that has little rainfall has a dry climate, and a place that has high temperatures has a hot climate."

So, I hope this is all straight. Temperatures will continue to be "cold" in the "winter," and shall increase as the season changes to "spring" and "summer." This evening, it shall grow dark outside, but DO NOT PANIC: God did not kill the sun, and it shall return tomorrow.

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