Explaining the Difference Between Climate and Weather

It’s cold outside. There’s no question about this. Temperatures along the east coast and across parts of the Midwest have countless numbers of us pulled in one direction by objective facts and another by what appears to be empirical evidence that the planet is cold, not hot, end of story. Those with an incomplete grasp of climate science are struggling to square the drifts of snow around them with the urgent voices of experts on TV. And even those of us who are not confused by this momentary blast of chilly air and who fully understand the difference between climate and weather are still gazing at the sky with a degree of concern. If cold weather tips the scales of politics and policy-making away from the long-term goal of keeping emissions under control and keeping temperature increases below the two-degree point of no return, what happens next? If humans are responsible for rising temperatures, what happens if humans, as a group, can’t or won’t accept that responsibility? Which matters more: The indifferent and relentless forces of physics and the laws of nature? Or the combined feelings of an influential species who can choose what to believe, what to ignore, and how to behave as a consequence of those beliefs?

This may be a question for philosophers and psychologists rather than climate scientists, lawmakers, or auto manufacturing CEOs, but we all depend on the same planet and resources. And when it comes to climate change, our fates are shared and our decisions and beliefs are inextricably linked. Unfortunately, those who take up the mantle of responsibility on this issue face two potential obstacles: 1) the planet itself and the temperature trajectory on which it’s been placed by our actions over the last century, and 2) the feelings and decisions of those around us.

Here at Just Atonement, we recognize that all things are connected to all other things and that our effort to slow global climate change will require an approach that’s multidisciplinary and leaves no area of human knowledge out of the equation. There is no such thing as an unimportant fact or an un-influential person as we move toward the ultimate goal of reducing increases in planetary temperature.  Every day, every person wakes up and makes a series of decisions that either support or impede that goal.

For the duration of this cold spell (and others to follow), if you find yourself encountering friends and neighbors who are confused by what this cold weather represents, take the opportunity to educate them. Use these nine simple answers to make your case.

For a quicker (and possibly more abrupt) set of responses, rely on these.

Points like these can help us explain that as arctic temperatures warm, the tight flow of cold air that usually sits on the arctic region like a knit cap begins to waver at the edges. The loose, wavy flow that results can bring swoops of arctic temperatures down over areas of the planet that don’t usually experience them—A simple image for a complex phenomena that lies outside the interest of someone toiling through a miserable commute to work.

Every small move we make can have an impact, from recycling to pushing members of congress to reduce manufacturing emissions, and these small moves include responding with patience to those who haven’t yet put the pieces together on the issues that affect us all. For more how to do this, contact our team.