Prince George chemistry teacher explains climate change vs. weather

By Todd Whitcombe
Prince George Citizen
May 16, 2023
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: Canada, Canada West

Todd Whitcombe

I was asked the other day if the heat wave we are experiencing is a consequence of climate change. You would think that would be an easy question to answer. But it is not that simple nor casually related. While climate change is happening and slowly increasing the mean average surface temperature of the Earth, day to day weather cannot simply be attributed to the overall changes in climate. Climate is a trend; weather is a single data point. Weather is the noise in the system. Because I teach chemistry, let’s try this analogy involving a quiz. Let’s assume I have 100 students in a class and they take a quiz worth 20 marks. The class average might be 12.6. Did anyone actually get a grade of 12.6? No. …Indeed, grades for each student could range from 0 to 20. The scores of the individual students are like the weather. Unpredictable and sporadic. 

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