Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Since When did Being a "Weather man" Make You a Scientist?

When the hell did being a "weather man" give you the ability to comment on shit you don't understand, that isn't even your purview of study? Someone get Dunning-Kruger on line one.

In theory, weather people are called meteorologists. Meteorologists don't study the climate - that's the job of Climatologists. Instead, meteorology is an interdisciplinary approach to studying the atmosphere. It, along with climatology, atmospheric physics, and atmospheric chemistry, make up the atmospheric sciences. The difference between meteorology and climatology is that meteorology studies short-term events, while climatology studies long term events.

Climatologists are almost universal in their agreement of global warming, and that hey, this is happening. You know - sorta like those inconsequential Brown people in the South Pacific who are loosing their homes due to sea level rise.

Meteorologists, on the other hand, are not.

NASA's made the facts pretty clear, but for a profession where it seems the only real requirement is having nice hair (because being right certainly isn't one of them), a fair number of weather people/meteorologists haven't quite adapted to this.

Let me state that while it sounds like I'm dissing meteorology I'm not. Any field of study is an important one, and the ability to predict short-term weather phenomena with a degree of accuracy is a very important one and one that needs to be respected.

But then, engineering is also a field that needs to be respected. So is being a medical doctor. The fact that you're part of the field, however, doesn't make you immune from making your field look bad when a bunch of you start saying stupid shit.And it does start to reflect on your profession after a while, and if enough people step up and start saying stupid things, it makes you wonder why you can be trusted.

So, why shouldn't I take seriously what some meteorologist (actually, let's be more correct here - weatherman/woman, because in some ways they're not the same thing) has to say on climate change?

Simply put, weather is not climate. Climate is not weather. Climate is the thing that drives the weather; climate is the engine and weather is the reactions within that engine. When the engine starts misfiring, we here in the engine might notice hiccups, but nothing too serious. At least, not until it's too late.

By the way, the current trends are suggesting anywhere from a 1mm/y to 3mm/y rise in sea level, meaning that we'll see anywhere from 1m to 3m by the end of the century. However, there are significant uncertainties here - for instance, a rapid melting of the Greenland ice sheet could raise the sea level by as much as 7m (~21ft). the Western Antarctic Ice sheet could be anywhere from 5-6m (~15-18ft). In any case we wouldn't have to worry about Venice being wiped off the face of the planet, because New York may very well take its place. A rapid heating of the earth (possibly caused by a methane burst created by a large expulsion of frozen methane under the ocean's surface, thawed and bubbling to the surface, have the potential to cause extinction events in any measure) could trigger this massive thawing and then it's time to break out the water wings!

1m doesn't sound like a lot. That's only 3.3 feet. Until you realize that you're not taking into effect storm surge. Katrina? Please. There will be days when we're begging to have mild hurricanes like Katrina back. This increase in water is going to have a wonderful impact on the way that the oceans work, and because the oceans drive the climate, this stands a chance of becoming a feedback loop of dramatic proportions (see: thermohaline cycle, and why it may not be here in the future).

Oh, and the extreme weather it'll bring! It'll be fun! There will be cookies. And cake.

So, I reiterate - when the hell did being a "weather man" make you a scientist? And why the hell should I take you seriously, as a weather person, when you run off at the mouth about climate change?

Climate =/= Weather.

I wouldn't go to a dermatologist if I had internal bleeding.

I'm not going to a meteorologist if I think there's something wrong with the climate.

I'm gonna go to a person who knows what the fuck they're talking about. Which universally excludes anyone on FOX news, among other places.

And yet, somehow, deep in the faith of Global Warming Denialism, this has become truth. I don't believe my stomach is bleeding because my eye doctor told me I was fine. These people are bought and paid for by big coal and oil, who, like all companies, can't see the forest beyond the trees. Unregulated capitalism is the engine that will likely destroy humanity. And it'll do it far more effectively than any transhuman technology or AI ever could.

No comments:

Post a Comment