Sunday, December 25, 2016

Your Cheatin' Climate

Lipstick on the collar
Strange phone calls and hang-ups
Working late far too often
Business travel with an attractive co-worker
You get the picture...

No one of these things proves an affair, but a pattern draws suspicion. Hire a PI, and the pattern is confirmed. Hire 100 PIs, and 97 of them agree. This still proves nothing, but the next strange event will be hard to ignore.

I watched the Leonardo DiCaprio film Before the Flood three times in the past couple weeks -- twice with classes and once with my spouse (and fellow climate-change scholar). At the end of this period, our New England weather was swinging wildly -- not setting record highs or lows for these December days, but coming close. And more importantly, changing extremes from high to low on a daily basis.

This results from oscillations in the flow of the jet stream that are more meridional (N-S) than zonal (E-W). Changes of this kind have been anticipated by climate scientists for decades, and in fact are the main reason the term "climate change" came to replace the original nomenclature.

No single week of temperature swings in a single place "proves" that our climate is unraveling. But such swings are consistent with the finding that the changes that were starting to become evident during my graduate-school days are now quite well established. At this point, our climate is Michael Douglas as Dan Gallagher, and that lipstick really should not be ignored.

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