Bringing common sense to climate science (and life)

Person taking showerWe are finally getting some much-needed rain here in here in drought-stricken Marin (although, sadly, not in the rest of California). Weather is therefore quite a conversation topic.

Today, my 15-year-old little Bookworm pointed out that the weather forecast is invariably wrong, whether especially when the forecast looks a few days ahead.  Rainstorms turn out to be drizzle and sunny days are overcast.

We agreed that even the finest meteorologist simply cannot predict all of the factors that make up weather at any given time. Just one puff of wind on a cloud, when magnified by distance, can go as far afield as a sniper’s bullet buffeted by a light breeze at the moment it leaves the gun’s muzzle. That millimeter may not be a significant factor when the bullet is 30 feet from the muzzle, but it can signal a dramatic direction change once the bullet has traveled more than a quarter, or even a half, mile.

Because I’m didactic, I couldn’t resist pointing out that, if we can’t predict tomorrow’s, or even this afternoon’s, weather with any certainty, it’s ludicrous to think that we can predict what the earth’s climate will be in years or even in decades. Little¬†Bookworm thought I was right, but added, somewhat tentatively, “But it’s good for us to keep the earth clean.”

I agreed with him wholeheartedly. “Clean, yes,” I said. “But there’s a difference between clean and crazy. It’s like the difference between a normal person who showers once a day, and the person with obsessive compulsive order who showers 25 or 30 times a day, stripping off his own skin.”

“Yeah,” he nodded. “I get that.”

“You know,” I told him, “almost a hundred years ago, your great-grandmother had a very smart doctor. Even back then, people always had fad diets, and ate crazy things in an effort to control their figures. When she asked him about one of the fad diets making the rounds among her friends, he told her ‘Everything in moderation. You can’t go wrong if you do that.’ That advice is always good.”

So enjoy a little candy now and then, but be sure to eat your vegetables too. And if you’re over 21, don’t worry about that glass of wine or beer you enjoy occasionally. Just as humans thrive in a temperate climate, they also thrive on a temperate diet, and with other temperate lifestyle choices.