This weekend's snow put me in mind of a climate change reality. As I've mentioned before, weather will still happen. But that can be hard to picture.
So picture this: It's snowing fairly hard. We're getting 1-2 inches (2-5 cm) accumulation per hour of fairly fluffy snow. There's a breeze from my left to right. The climate for these snowflakes, namely what we expect to see, is a steady fall with some steady motion from my left to right. If I just look at the general picture, that's what I see -- the climate. If I focus in on a particular snowflake, I see it moving in all directions. Sometimes it's moving extra fast, compared to the others, down or to my right. But sometimes I see the snowflake move to the left, or even up, completely against what we expect from the climate.
That is the weather. (At least for the purpose of the example it's weather, in specific detail, it is turbulence.) Even though every snow flake does average -- its climate -- moving down and to my right, the weather, the short term motions, can be in the opposite direction. If you look closely enough, every snow flake spends some time going opposite its climate direction.
So it goes with climate. While the general tendency is one thing, there's no surprise that if you look at the earth for short periods (like years, rather than the meaningful 20-30 years) you'll see the opposite of the long-term expectation happen. Sometimes the snowflake moves upwards.
Inertia on the pathway to decarbonization
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