29 May 2014
Science writer Chris Mooney has a nice piece on Mother Jones about this weeks episode of Cosmos. Neil deGrasse Tyson has talked about climate frequently already in previous episodes, but this Sunday, the entire show is about it. There is a preview clip for this weeks show (see below) in which Dr. Tyson walks along a beach with a dog, and explains the difference between weather and climate.
You could also use the ocean to explain it as well. Those crashing waves along the shore are keeping the dog busy, and he has to jump up the beach a bit when a big crasher comes in. That’s weather; it’s chaotic and it’s not predictable with any accuracy beyond about 5-7 days. If that walk lasts for hours though, then the tide will start coming in, and the water will climb up the beach, necessitating a change in the path of doctor and dog (if they want to stay dry). That’s climate, and it is quite predictable. You can get a tide table that will tell you what time the tide will reach its highest point, and neglecting storms, you can know just about how high it will get as well.
I have no illusions that this episode of cosmos will change any minds, because those folks are basing their belief on political creed rather than scientific fact. However, there are a lot of young people who will watch this program, and get an hour of science truth (versus false balance) about the defining issue of our global generation.
We must find a way to solve this problem. The nation that figures out the best technology to do so will be the economic powerhouse of the 21st century, and unless we stop giving equal time to ignorance, the odds are not in favor of that being America.