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The Problem of Not Understanding The Problem

There are several stunningly difficult problems in dealing with climate change:

1. This is not a scientific “problem,” this is hundreds if not thousands of different science phenomena all happening at once and all interacting: ocean currents, ice sheets, droughts, storms, jet streams, ocean temperatures varying widely around the world, surprises of every kind (heat waves, unexpectedly melting ice sheets) and so on and on. Computer modeling is hopelessly complex. Computers are not nearly powerful enough.

2. A public and political leadership that almost 100% either knows no science, does not “believe in science,” or almost certainly does not have the feel for science that practitioners develop over the years.

(Much of my expertise has been in power electronics that results in a healthy respect for malfunction that leads to over-heating and fire. A sense of smell that knows the difference between normally warm and overheating, smoking or possibly burning is something one develops quickly.)

3. Climate change is episodic in space and time. For most of the world, and especially for leaders living and working in air-conditioned comfort, climate change is an event hundreds or thousands of miles away. A one foot change in ocean level might not be noticed unless a hurricane strikes. Then, even if a heat wave strikes, once it is over other pressures take priority.

4. There is no singular leader, an FDR or a Churchill who is intelligent, articulate and convincing. Instead there is Donald Trump sowing mass confusion and doubt.

5. And now the rich (e.g. Bill Gates) are afraid we are going to take their money. If as a civilization we do what needs to be done, it will be worse than fighting World War II with a 90% incremental tax rate.

6. For most people, something that is over the horizon, geographically or in time, and without a specific task or vote to cast, life goes on with only a modest unease, if any at all with the exception now, of more and more people living under horrific threats. California this November 2019 is a good example.

Perhaps you will understand why I am writing this at 3:42 am.

This is a difficult science problem because it is not one problem but many, a different one for every area of the earth because the earth is very different from one place to another (like ocean and land for example) and so how the extra heat affects things varies.

There are many changes in the weather, and by that I mean temperature, precipitation (rain, snow, or no rain (drought), more severe storms (cover a wider area; drop more rain; higher winds); the earth’s average temperature; the maximum or minimum temperature; glacier melting, heat waves and much more.

What is significant is how rare these events are, how often they set records and especially how often they set all time records, or, in other words the most, least, etc. in recorded history.

This is where an approach is to use statistics. You know that if you flip a coin the odds are 1/2 that it will come up heads or tails. But if you say what are the odds of ten heads in a row the odds are 0.0009765 or about 1 in a thousand.

However you figure the events (6 temperature records in a row for example combined with a bunch of other rare events) the probability of all of these events happening as often as they do is extremely low so something is going on to make them happen so often. Additionally almost all the events are dangerous: record heat, record wind, record rain. And the reason is that we have added so much energy into the climate system and that energy is going to do somethings, or rather many somethings. So watch the slide show.

Then you find the glaciers are melting faster than normal and then much faster than normal, and ocean currents are changing and on and on. We would say that there is a very unusual number of weather anomilies, that is very unusual events happening far more often than one would expect and this is very frightening.

Here are some useful links.

This is a difficult science problem because it is not one problem but many, a different one for every area of the earth because the earth is very different from one place to another (like ocean and land for example) and so how the extra heat affects things varies.

There are many changes in the weather, and by that I mean temperature, precipitation (rain, snow, or no rain (drought), more severe storms (cover a wider area; drop more rain; higher winds); the earth’s average temperature; the maximum or minimum temperature; glacier melting, heat waves and much more.

What is significant is how rare these events are, how often they set records and especially how often they set all time records, or, in other words the most, least, etc. in recorded history.

This is where an approach is to use statistics. You know that if you flip a coin the odds are 1/2 that it will come up heads or tails. But if you say what are the odds of ten heads in a row the odds are 0.0009765 or about 1 in a thousand.

However you figure the events (6 temperature records in a row for example combined with a bunch of other rare events) the probability of all of these events happening as often as they do is extremely low so something is going on to make them happen so often. Additionally almost all the events are dangerous: record heat, record wind, record rain. And the reason is that we have added so much energy into the climate system and that energy is going to do somethings, or rather many somethings. So watch the slide show.

Then you find the glaciers are melting faster than normal and then much faster than normal, and ocean currents are changing and on and on. We would say that there is a very unusual number of weather anomilies, that is very unusual events happening far more often than one would expect and this is very frightening.

Here are some useful links.

ASK NASA ~ ASK UNION OF CONCERNED SCIENTISTS ~ ASK WEATHER CHANNEL

ASK NASA ~ ASK UNION OF CONCERNED SCIENTISTS ~ ASK WEATHER CHANNEL

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