Baby, it’s cold outside, what with polar vortexes and the like. Except maybe it isn’t. Maybe it’s a conspiracy. Maybe it’s a left-wing conspiracy, designed to blame right-wingers for climate change. Here’s conservative US political disc jockey and padlocked-Wikipedia-biographee Rush Limbaugh:
Do you know what the polar vortex is? Have you ever heard of it? Well, they just created it for this week…And so any weather extreme now is said to be man-made, and therefore it fulfils the leftist agenda on this… they’ve come up with this phrase called the “polar vortex.” If you’ve been watching television, they’ve created a graphic, all the networks have, and it basically consists of a view of the planet if you are right above the North Pole.
They put this big purple blob, or blue blob, or red blob, depending on the network you’re looking at, over the entire North Pole, and they call that the polar vortex. It actually sounds like a crappy science fiction movie to me, but anyway, that’s what they’re calling it.
However, as @TalesOfWhoa explains over on Skeptophilia, the term polar vortex is not new at all. Far from having been invented this week, it’s actually enjoys a 150-year history of usage in meteorology. And that blue blob over Chicago is certainly there, hence, well, its blueness and blobbiness. Continue reading ““Polar vortex”? That’s what they WANT you to believe…”
So apparently, the dinosaurs are extinct. That’s not really news of course (time to let it go, Nessie fans). But what is making the news is some new research about how those terrible lizards ended up shuffling off this mortal coil en masse.
There is quite good geological evidence that some kind of massive catastrophic event occurred around 65 million years ago, pretty much around about the same time that dinosaurs stopped appearing in the fossil record. Most kids today will tell you that this was caused by a large asteroid (a theory known as the Alvarez impact hypothesis), but some scientists argue with these kids and believe instead that those geological remnants are not inconsistent with multiple asteroidal impacts, or perhaps with the world’s biggest volcano going ‘pop’ (or something).
A dinosaur earlier this year. Obviously.
But today we saw reports offering an alternative theory. Continue reading “Headline-spectrum of the day: Dino-apocalypse by ‘wind’”
What is it with some media outlets and their tendency to gloss over the difference between ‘weather‘ and ‘climate‘? Let me give you the basics. Here’s the Wikipedia* explanation of the term ‘weather‘:
…the state of the atmosphere, to the degree that it is hot or cold, wet or dry, calm or stormy, clear or cloudy.
And here’s the one for ‘climate‘:
…the statistics of temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind, precipitation, atmospheric particle count and other meteorological elemental measurements in a given region over long periods. Climate can be contrasted to weather, which is the present condition of these elements and their variations over shorter periods.
[*Those with a morbid mistrust of Wikipedia can consult the corresponding Oxford English Dictionary definitions here and here. (Hint: weather = ‘…at a particular place and time‘; climate = ‘…over a long period‘. You know. The same as in Wikipedia.)]
Weather is that short-term burst of meteorological whatchamacallit that just happens to be occurring right now, perhaps as the result of — hey, I don’t know — a “ridge of low pressure” or something. Like, today it happens to be rainy and cold. That’s weather.
Climate, on the other hand, is Continue reading “Once more, with feeling: ‘Weather’ is NOT ‘climate’”