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Remember: Climate.gov Launches

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Climate.gov Launches

I have to make a confession today. I am and have been for as long as I can remember, completely in love with the weather. My fascination began as a child scared to death of thunderstorms. I use to watch the weather channel as if it were Saturday morning cartoons. The best thing about the weather channel is that not only is the local forecast on every eight minutes, with constantly updating radar and satellite images but unlike Saturday morning cartoons, the weather channel is on everyday, every hour, every second.

I considered becoming a meteorologist for a long time but my life has taken me in other directions. Strangely enough, where I’ve ended up, is pretty darn weather related. The environment is in many ways a symphony, each organism an instrument, each cycle a movement and the composer that puts all the noise together into one sound is in fact, the weather.

Weather is also one of the major players in the hottest environmental issue of our time. That issue is naturally the political quagmire that is climate change. The issue has become an argument of belief against non belief and as I said this past Saturday, an argument devoid of reliable scientific information.

Yesterday, a good friend of mine who identifies himself as a Libertarian but votes with the Republican Party engaged me in one of our frequent political arguments. We began discussing climate change and he told me that he knew it wasn’t a real thing because every year the Jersey Shore looks the same when he visits. The sea levels were obviously not rising.

What my friend fails to realize and I do not believe the general American public realizes on a whole, is that the sea levels are indeed rising. The amount in feet isn’t epic (yet). It hasn’t affected the shores of developed countries. Rising sea levels have however had an impact in countries like Tuvalu, whose representatives walked out of talks in Copenhagen this past December because they sought a firm resolution on climate change. Their country is headed underwater, and it is already being noticed.

My friend also fails to realize that whatever beach he is visiting maintains its appearance against natural erosion of wind and water by constant maintenance at the expense of taxpayers. As seas levels rise incrementally such maintenance will become more and more costly, and eventually there won’t be anything to maintain.

President Obama is trying to change the way Americans think about climate change and it is a sad thing that we had to wait until 2010 for a president to do so. His administration has established a branch of the Commerce Department to deal solely with the issue of climate change. The first major result of this new branch of government is the new www.climate.gov.

This website shows years, in some cases from as far back as the late 1800’s, of climate data. The data is presented in an easy to read format that makes the science easy to understand for people that are unfamiliar with it. What www.climate.gov really does though is provide a resource to anyone interested in the changing processes of the planet. It gives all of us the opportunity to take a step back and see the bigger picture. It also shows us the microscopic picture of the particular climate in which we live.

Simply looking at sand dunes on a beach and making a decision about the entirety of our planet is silly.

The kid inside me that watched the weather channel for hours got very excited this afternoon upon discovering the new website. It is still in beta and is expected to go full service sometime in 2011. Check it out, take a spin. Take it in.

www.climate.gov

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4 Comments:

Blogger Katie Bee said...

This is a very timely and important post. The debates about the snowstorms barraging DC and not Vancouver that seem to disprove global "warming" in the eyes of the Right only hilight how few people understand the complicated relationship between climate and weather. The switch within the environmental group to "climate change" from "warming" is significant, and I think it will switch, again, to "global climate destabilization."

It's not the warming that gets you, it's the change.

February 24, 2010 at 5:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't figure out whether most people who wax philosophic about AGW or "climate change" are Luddites at heart (technological progress is bad) or believe in the omnipotence of man (e.g. we can change the climate on a global scale, for better or worse). Which are you? Us skeptics are neither. We generally appreciate technology, and don't believe man is all-powerful.

February 24, 2010 at 11:15 AM  
Blogger Andrew Kleiner said...

Anon 11:15,

I believe that human beings are the first species on the planet who have reached a state in their evolutionary development to directly affect the entirety of Earth by their actions. Progress is not bad but progress at the expense of our ecosystems isn't progress at all. It will destroy us and we need to live in a sustainable way as a species, which we currently do not do, in order to prevent this.

February 24, 2010 at 12:21 PM  
Blogger Katie Bee said...

I don't understand how knowing about science and looking toward sustainable development patterns and alternative energies can label someone a luddite.

February 24, 2010 at 1:25 PM  

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