Our skin, body and receptors are made to perceive the instantaneous stimuli that surround us, among which are pain, light, flavors and… weather. We can easily distinguish at what latitude we are on Earth, or how close we are to the sea by feeling the humidity on air, the freezing cold winds or the scorching heat.
But there are other very important things on life that we are not able to experiment directly, for example, the Earth magnetic field, other persons’ ideas, or climate. We need an instrument or a process in order to perceive them -a compass, a conversation, a bunch of data-. Climate is an statistical approach to a huge set of weather data collected over several years (~30). We do not have any sense that is able to feel that. Our best guess resides in our memory, in the community knowledge or in the scientific data.
Let’s make an experiment… Imagine the picture of a sunny day outside the house and neighborhood where you grew up…… now imagine a rainy and cloudy day….. now think about how would you describe your hometown’s climate to a foreigner. See? You can differentiate the weather from the climate. Tons of weather states had been stored on your mind for several years and you have created a mathematical average of the memories which you have called CLIMATE. It’s not as straightforward as to feeling weather or light or pain, right? It involves an analytical process.
Maybe an old-aged person that have experimented different epochs living in the same place, is able to distinguish a change in the climate, but that is hard and requires time. Thanks to the instrumentation we are able to analyze observed data that encompass a lot of decades, that way we can detect in a substantial manner a change in the global patterns: AN UNPRECEDENTED CLIMATE CHANGE.
The differences are huge between the time that it takes to a person to perceive irreversible climate changes, compared to the time-window that we have to drastically reduce CO2 emissions in order to avoid those impacts. That is one of the reasons why it’s so hard to act on climate change. Politicians have short periods of action and their decisions are not reflected on climate immediately, so they prefer to act in other issues that show off more tangible the money they are spending, regardless the priority and importance of the project which they are investing.
So it is essential to keep seeking different ways to represent the climate change in order we can feel it and we can transmit the urgency of acting against it. Using dynamical graphs, artistic images, astonishing sounds, explosive aromas or whatever our imagination creates that can make people realize that climate is changing. How would you do it?
GIF Author: Ed Hawkins