The difference between weather and climate: A Science Lesson


The Climate and Environmental debate in the United States often confuses the difference between weather and climate.  For instance, some time ago, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) confused weather and climate when he brought a snowball into Congress to argue that human-induced climate change is misplaced.  This article from Global Environmental Relief blog takes a closer look at the difference between the two terms and their relationship in the larger scope of the planet’s history.  It’s worth a read (disclaimer: Rev. Joe LaGuardia serves as vice president of the GERI board.)

By Dr. Darrell Smith, Global Environmental Relief

There’s a great deal of talk today about the difference between weather and climate. For many who grew up in North Central Texas, the changeability of the weather was a daily conversation topic.  In this part of Texas, the weather sometimes changed drastically over the course of a few hours.  A sunny balmy day outside on the lake could have you running for cover as a severe thunderstorm and hail suddenly appeared from out of nowhere.  Winter days in the 70s changed in a few hours to ice storms and a foot of snow (we have the pictures to prove it!).

Often attributed to Mark Twain, the old adage, “If you don’t like the weather wait a minute, it’ll change” certainly applies to this part of Texas – except in the summer, when it is just hot.

August is notorious for days close to or exceeding 100 °F with no rain in sight. The Hotter’N Hell 100 bicycle race held here each year in August is aptly named!  All of these frequent changes in weather led many from the area to become profoundly interested in weather phenomenon around the world, and some eventually to discussions of climate.

Weather is the day to day changes in temperature, humidity, or rain in a particular place.  Climate, on the other hand, is quite different!  Climate is the prevailing weather conditions of a region throughout the year, averaged over a series of years and decades….

The evidence for climate change won’t be found in the weather you experience this week – or even next month.  The evidence will be found by looking outside of our nightly weather reports and even outside the United States.  The evidence can be found in looking at the climate that is changing around the world and also with the people and natural world already suffering from its effects.  [Read More here…]

Published by Joe LaGuardia

I am a pastor and author in Vero Beach, Florida, and write on issues related to spirituality, faith, politics, and culture.

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