I’m not a climate scientist; I’m an atmospheric scientist. The two studies are very close but often lumped together. An atmospheric scientist, aka meteorologist, looks at the short-term changes in our atmosphere — weather. That’s typically days or weeks. A climate scientist, aka climatologist, looks at long-term changes over months, years, decades, centuries and millennia. From the outside, climatology and meteorology are confused, the way people confuse optometry and ophthalmology, or psychiatry and psychology. Meteorology is to climatology what a sprint is to a marathon. They use the same fundamentals, applied over different time periods.
Meteorology and climatology both are science, not belief. Science can be proven through measurement, experiment and demonstration. What’s odd about science is there’s so much that happens that just does not make sense. How is the Earth’s orbit around the sun so precise and continuous? How can an acorn become a mighty oak tree that lives for centuries? How can tons of rain fall from a cloud, something that floats? Why does gravity hold us to the planet? For what reason does electricity fly through the sky as lightning?
If you take away the principles of science, none of this seems reasonable. Go from logic to observation and experiment to find the reasons why.
When I tell people there was a recent record high, no one questions how I arrived at that conclusion (thank you). People trust that my training and track record show I kind of know what I’m talking about.
So, why does a small but loud group of people question and debate climate researchers? Survey data by George Mason University shows attitudes toward climate change largely align with political leaning. Whenever I see an article about climate change, I hold my breath as I skim the comments. Without fail, comments include, “The Earth’s climate has always changed,” dismissing the decades of study thousands of climatologists around the world put into learning it. From there, comments become political and accusatory.
Have you ever met a climatologist? I have. I’ve worked on boards and committees with them and interacted with them socially. While they may not be as cool and charming as meteorologists (haha), they are passionate, intelligent human beings who dedicate their energy to finding facts. They didn’t go to graduate school and labor to earn Ph.D.s to seek a position where they make up stories and falsify data to mislead and make money. There are other professions for that. Climatologists deserve respect.
When your physician tells you she sees long-term changes in your labs that need your attention, do you dismiss that professional perspective with, “They’ve changed before?” When your truck goes in for service and your mechanic says, “Your engine diagnostics continue to show a problem,” do you dismiss that with, “I saw a post that says mechanics make things up to get your money?” Then, why do people do that for climate change?!!!!
Next week, in part 2 of the Climate Chronicles, we’ll focus on the basics of how the planet is warming.
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