Danielle Meitiv posted a great article on her Brave Blue Worlds blog regarding the Top Ten Extreme Weather Events of 2010 voted on by NOAA subscribers. The article talks about the differences between the terms climate and weather and how they get confused when speaking about climate change. Danielle defines climate as the average of meteorological elements, such as temperature, humidity, precipitation, etc. over a long period while weather is what’s going on outside your window right now, (34 and sunny here in the DC area), or over a short period of time (i.e. the ten-day forecast).
An interesting piece of information as many people who criticize climate change make reference to the weather they experience around their home areas our within their country; however, the weather is sort term while climate is long term. Over the long term, climate is changing but not as we think. Many of my family, friends, and people in my social network believe climate change will make areas warmer, which probably has something to do with the term Global Warming, but warming may not occur uniformly around the world some scientists predict some areas will experience low than average temperatures. I’ve even seen the term “localized freezing” in the scientific literature. Climate change is leading and may lead to an increase of extreme storm events in the future. We’ve seen the disasters all over the world: flooding, hurricanes, and cyclones causing people to flee their homes and never coming back or having to rebuild their homes and livelihoods. Climate affects long term weather patterns, but weather is too short term to tell us what is going to happen in the future.
This leads to an important theme for Speak Up for the Blue: spreading understanding of Ocean related issues to their family, friends, colleagues, and social network. If family members joke about looking forward to climate change because they want warmer weather, explain to them that warm weather may not occur everywhere and in places where warm weather occurs, you may see an increase in extreme weather events and an increase in their intensity. The climate change issue is a complicated one, especially in the mainstream media. It is up to Ocean Leaders around the world to ensure that people understand the consequences of climate change and its seriousness on the daily impact of our lives and others around the world.