Preserving the Environment

Here’s the Difference Between Weather and Climate

June 5, 2014
Here’s the Difference Between Weather and Climate
Screengrab via YouTube
Or, why this winter's record cold doesn't disprove global warming.

As we’ve said before, there’s really no debate whether or not climate change is real. Despite the scientific consensus, however, some people still aren’t quite convinced that the planet is getting hotter. “If global warming is real,” a climate-skeptic might wonder, “why was I huddled under blankets until March?”

Well, if you watch this video from National Geographic, astrophysicist and Cosmos host Neil deGrasse Tyson elegantly shuts down that argument in two minutes.

With the help of an enthusiastic dog, he illustrates that weather and climate change are measured in completely ways.

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“Here’s the difference between weather and climate,” Tyson says as he and his furry friend walk along the beach. “Weather is what the atmosphere does in the short term, day to day. Climate is the long-term average of the weather over a number of years.” He points out that dog’s restless wandering represents the daily fluctuation of weather, while he, walking in a steady forward pace, is the long-term trend of climate.

“Weather is hard to predict, like my friend here,” he says about the wandering pup. “But climate is predictable. Climate has changed many times in the long history of the Earth — but always in response to a global force.” By the way, that “force” is the increase in carbon dioxide from our burning of fossil fuels.

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We explained in a previous post that as we continue driving our cars and burning fuel at factories and power plants, CO2 gets released into the atmosphere as “blocks” like in the game of Tetris (also known as the greenhouse effect). And just like the video game, if we can’t clear up these CO2 blocks, they’ll just build up faster and faster until it’s game over.

It’s a bit doomsday, but it’s the hard truth. But we suppose climate-skeptics don’t need to worry about the future of the planet in its fight against climate change. After all, as Tyson said, the earth will survive — only we won’t.