I see that Ecology Ottawa’s latest email Update newsletter (dedicated to stimulating responsible action on climate change) is landing in people’s inboxes on the coldest day we’ve had in 8 years.
Could the wind chill be blowing away people’s conviction that things are actually getting warmer?
As they say: climate is what you expect, weather is what you get. Today’s cold weather had a lower probability of happening as the climate has warmed, but that lower probability isn’t zero.
This is explained by a graph that comes from US climate scientist James Hansen, here borrowed from the blog of the American Geophysical Union.*
What it shows are statistical results for actual temperatures measured all over the world. The red bit bunging out to the right of the “normal” curve shows how temperatures have increased since the 1950s. But what we’re interested in is the thin blue tail on the left. That blue bit used to be much thicker, meaning that below average temperatures were more frequent, but the fact that there is any blue there at all anymore means that even though we’re seeing extra cold temperatures less often, they still do happen occasionally even though most days are warmer.
*The American Geophysical Union call themselves “the world’s largest organization of Earth and space scientists”