You already know so much about climate change | The Weatherman

Also, a quick explanation of how ponds and lakes chill so quickly in August.

Sometimes you know more than you think you do.

After all, we live in a world where everything must follow physical laws — at least in the universe we find ourselves in. So as we go about our daily lives, observations we make in subjects we already know about can become conjectures in areas where we know less.

Let’s take climate change as an example, since many people still argue about whether it’s real or fake, natural or man-made, and about how worried we should actually be.

When people ask me if I believe in climate change, I ask them about the moon.

Does the moon have oceans? Or, even small lakes or even ponds? The answer is no, and if I ask why, the immediate answer they say it’s because there are no clouds or rain to make water.

Is the moon also very cold? Sure, because the first men on the moon had to have insulated space suits to survive up there.

Put these ideas together and we now know that an atmosphere provides Earth with weather (clouds, rain, wind, snow, etc.) and warms the temperature.

Conversely, if an atmosphere was gradually added to the moon, you would expect the moon to start warming up; the thicker the atmosphere, the warmer it would get.

That’s exactly what’s happening now on Earth by us burning fossil fuels (coal, gasoline, and natural gas).

Should we worry about this? Again, I am sure you already know from everyday experience.

Remember that climate affects the average of the day-to-day weather, and the day-to-day weather is what impacts our daily lives for better or for worse.

In that case, can we predict how the weather will change in a warming earth? It turns out we already have that answer: everyone knows that the precipitation is heavier and storms stronger closer to the equator. Anyone traveling to Florida or further south to the tropics notices the increased humidity and much warmer temperatures.

So, it is logical that a warmer earth would have the same effect that warmer tropics has on the weather. In that case, all of us can expect more extreme weather, and no one would think that heavy rain, stronger winds and more devastating storms are a good thing.

Why do warmer temperatures do that? Again, you already know the answer if you think about from everyday experience. There is more water vapor in the tropics because of the warmer temperatures, and noticeable humidity and water vapor is the fuel that the weather runs on.

Everybody knows what adding fuel does to a fire: overdo it and you are going to get burned, just as we might from adding more water vapor into the atmosphere.

Now what? Can we live through switching from fossil fuels to solar, wind, electric cars etc.? Again,you already know the answer.

My grandmother lived through the transition from horse power to cars. She told wonderful stories of her childhood in Montana and her early life as a mother and wife in Washington. She also spoke of hardship as there were many but never about how society was torn apart by the advent of the automobile.

My uncle went from helping in a stable to owning the first Shell gas station in Montana in Butte. My father had a good fifty year career in the automobile business. My mother was thrilled when her family got their first car.

Prior to that, her relatives could make a Sunday drive from a neighboring town, and that would be extra dishes for my aunt and mom to wash. Once they had their own car, they could enjoy picnic drives on Sunday without the extra dishes.

I suspect the only stories my grandchildren will tell their grandchildren will be how quiet and clean electric cars were and how eliminating polluting fuels increased the general health, not to mention a bluer sky.

Next time when someone asks you if climate change is real, simply point out the moon.

On a completely different note, have you noticed your ponds or lakes steaming?

I live on a lake and even though the temperature of the water was in the 80s at the first of August, by Labor Day, it is too cold to swim in.

A contributor to this cooling is evaporation from the warm lake into drier air above. We can’t normally see this, but at this time of year, the air is cooler than the water, and we can see this “steam fog” rise from the surface.

Think about stepping out of the shower before drying off and how cold our skin feels. The evaporating water from our skin cools us off, but how? The heat from our bodies warm up the water on our skin, drawing out the heat and making us feel cold.

The evaporation from our lakes and ponds is just the same: they needs heat to evaporate, and that heat comes from the water. This is why small bodies of water go from so warm to so cold within the span of a month.