They Didn't Ask Me (dr_phil_physics) wrote,
They Didn't Ask Me
dr_phil_physics

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OMG - We're All Going To Die!

Doomed, DOOMED I say!

Well, the silly season is upon us. No, I don't mean the overhyped Christmas Selling Season, tho that is pretty silly, too. But the local West Michigan weather people are gearing up to tell us tales of horror and impending doom.

It was 17°F last night. 23°F this morning. And Land O' Goshen, we had a wind chill of 10°F, too.

Wind chill is, of course, one more measure of trying to make things sound worse than they really are. You could just as easily say we're have a temperature of 23°F and a stiff wind -- and we'd all get the picture. And it says wear a hat, coat and gloves. (grin)

Those Dirty Lying Scientists

And of course, this being the coldest weather we've had yet in this Michigan Winter of 2007-08, there are people saying, "So much for global warming." Now such a phrase gets uttered in my house -- because we're joking. But too many people, I fear, say such sentiments in all honesty because they believe it to be true. We have cold weather, therefore there is no global warming.

Folks, nothing could be further from the truth. One of the reasons why it has taken so long for the theory of global warming to be accepted is that it's complicated. But just because something is complicated, doesn't mean that we should throw up our hands and give up. Instead, take the time to learn a few of the subtleties, and then you'll really appreciate the problem.

There Will Always Be A Winter... And A Summer

Fact is, due to the 23½° inclination of the Earth's axis and the orbital plane around the Sun, the Northern Hemisphere tilts towards the Sun in summer and away from the Sun in winter. We will have seasons, even under global warming. They just might not be quite the same seasons we have right now. Or fifty years ago.

Extremes happen. Variations happen. This is perfectly normal. We will continue to set record high and low temperatures for every one of the 365 days in the calendar over time. So even if the morning of 28 November 2007 is the coldest on record, which I'm sure it isn't, that by itself doesn't negate global warming. Which says that, on average, the average temperatures over the Earth are increasing.

During a period of global warming, the turnover of the weather conditions actually suggest that cold winters can actually increase according to some theories. This is why we have and test multiple theories -- so we can learn.

And global warming does not stop me from warning my students to plan their weekend carefully, because the weather people are gearing up to be hysterical about the weather late Sunday and into Monday -- and since Monday starts the last week of regular classes, racing back from home to your Monday classes might be made treacherous if the weather gods want to make the weather forecasters look good. (grin)

Letters To The Editor

The Grand Rapids Press gets letters from people all the time knocking various science theories or studies. Some are from genuine crackpots, others are from people who don't really understand what they're arguing. In a recent letter, for example, a reader took issue with an article on the melting of glaciers on Greenland, saying that the newspaper displayed ignorance of basic physics/science.

Okay, the reader was right in suggesting that floating ice, when it melts, does not change the level of the water. But we're not talking about floating ice, we're talking about grounded ice, whether above the sea or grounded and not floating in the sea. So while a floating ice cube in a glass of water won't change the water level when it melts, because the volume of the submerged ice is exactly the same as the volume of water displaced by the ice cube which is also the volume of water of the ice when it melts... I suggest that if I pile 200 pounds of ice blocks on your kitchen counter, that there will be quite a mess on the floor when it melts.

Melt the glaciers and you ADD water to the oceans. And therefore the ocean levels will rise.

Misheard On NPR

I was changing radio stations last night coming home and caught the tail end of an NPR news item. I'm sure that this wasn't what was really said or mean, but it sounded to me like some government program to assist people living in low lying coastal locations which would be adversely affected by rising water levels was to provide more swimming lessons.

Now there's a solution to disaster -- when the oceans rise, just dogpaddle in place. (grin)

I Can't Get Too Bent Out Of Shape

If it sounds like I'm not completely taking this seriously, believe me that there's only so far you can resist the force of nature which is the average citizen. Without a good grounding in science literacy, the average person is going to be left confused by all this, and be wide open to manipulation by news, politicians, spokesmen and writers who all have an agenda in being heard.

So sometimes all I can do is laugh. Or smirk. Or snark.

Or make blog entries. (grin)

Dr. Phil
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