The forecast today doesn’t prove or disprove climate change. Here’s why.
Turns out a lot of people still get “climate” and “weather” confused. People in your neighborhood. People on Twitter. People running for President. Maybe even you!
We totally get it — it can be confusing. To help sort things out, we’ve compiled this handy overview of why climate and weather are different.
To start out, we’re going to quote NASA, because they are smarter than us and they’ve already said it better than we ever could:
“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.”
Got it? Here are a few examples just in case.
Weather: It rained today.
Climate: Our rainstorms have gotten rainier over time.
Weather: Man, this heat wave is killing me.
Climate: We are having more frequent and severe heat waves.
Weather: What you talk about on an awkward first date.
Climate: What you should talk about to establish whether there will be a second date.
You get the idea, unless you are willfully opposed to getting the idea. Bottom line: The climate can change and there can still be snow, Chachi. Climate and weather: Not interchangeable.
Not interchangeable, but! They are interconnected. Meteorologists and climate scientists know more than ever about how climate change is affecting the intensity of the weather we experience. This rapidly developing field even has a sexy name, “event attribution.” Bonus points for working a mention of that into your next date.
Speaking of wonky terms, we know the whole “global warming” phrase is fun to joke about — you might even bring a snowball onto the Senate floor to try to mock it — but that phrase does not refer to warming weather. It refers to an increase in the average temperature of the Earth’s surface. It’s actually one of the changes that falls under the umbrella of climate change. So when you say things like, “Global warming isn’t so warm these days,” you just sound uneducated (looking at you, Louisiana Rep. John Fleming).
There! Now that you know the difference between weather and climate, you can astonish your friends, enemies, and political representatives with this information. Go forth and be climate-savvy, and thanks for stopping by.
Want more climate news and knowledge? Stick around and read more Grist!
Get Grist in your inbox