Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Weather != Climate

One of the things that is becoming irksome is the consistent drumbeat of folks mistaking weather for climate. Roger Pielke Jr. had this to say in a blog post yesterday:
Some advocates, including some scientists, seek to have things both ways when they assert that a particular weather event is “consistent with” predictions of human-caused climate change. The snowy period of early 2010 along the U.S. East Ccoast saw those opposed to action suggesting that the record snow and cold cast doubt on the science of human-caused climate change, while at the same time those calling for action explained that the weather was “consistent with” the forecasts from climate models. Both lines of argument were misleading. Any and all weather is “consistent with” predictions from climate models under a human influence on the climate system. Similarly, any and all weather is also “consistent with” failing predictions of long-term climate change. Simply put, weather is not climate. Given the degree of politicization of the climate debate, we should not be surprised that even the weather gets politicized.
This same phenomenon is present in applied aspects of ecology, particularly fish and wildlife management and conservation biology. We need to watch out for the pernicious effects of stealth issue advocacy in our own backyards.

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