A Burning Question?

Posted by in #Blog, #Jonathan Parfrey Posts, #Leading with Climate Science on July 28, 2016

Firefighters continue to battle the Sand Fire as it rages on in the Angeles National Forest outside Los Angeles, California. (Photo Credit: David McNiew/AFP/Getty Images via ABC News)  

Firefighters continue to battle the Sand Fire as it rages on in the Angeles National Forest outside Los Angeles, California.

(Photo Credit: David McNiew/AFP/Getty Images via ABC News)

Yes, Los Angeles is feeling the heat. Although the Sand Fire is unusually bad, and summer temperatures are crazy-hot, and Southern California is stuck in a fifth year of drought — are these events “proof” of climate change?

Proof? You need proof?

Attributing singular weather events to climate change is a fruitless endeavor. Climate is not weather. Climate is the average of decades of weather.

Dr. Marshall Shepherd, past President of the American Meteorological Society, summarized the distinction in this way: “Weather is your mood and climate is your personality.”

You have your cool and hot moods. Sometimes you’re teary. Sometimes you’re emotionally dry. But not one of these moods, or even two or three grouped together, can adequately describe you, your personality, the way you are.

The science on climate change is clear. For the past hundred years, scientists have been measuring land temperature, air temperature, and ocean temperature. The result is unequivocal: the earth is getting warmer. Likewise, scientists have consistently measured the rise of CO2 in the atmosphere and it is now over 400ppm.

Due to our civilization’s rapid burning of fossil fuel, we are radically transforming the earth’s personality, and we don’t need an individual wildfire, heat wave, rainstorm, or flood to prove it. The verdict is in.

As the good book says, “It is a wicked generation that demands a sign.” (Matthew 12:39)