Trusting a weather forecaster to tell you about climate change is like trusting the view from your bedroom window to inform you about what’s happening in China. (Unless, of course, you live in China.) Why is this so hard to understand?

These pieces at the New York Times, Dot Earth, and Grist help us get at this issue: it’s because TV (and radio) meteorologists are people’s most obvious connection with the weather — they are the mediators of most weather news/events — and, for the lay person living their (relatively) ahistorical one day to the next, weather and climate have always been practically synonymous. This highlights the role of the media in the public understanding of science, and pinpoints the challenge for educators: how to separate weather from climate, and how to mediate climate, which is something that most people rarely have to deal with except in occasional conversations with their elders (“I remember the winters we used to have!”).

And while I’ve generally been suspicious of most forms of geo-engineering, in part because they deflect attention from the need to transition away from fossil fuels, Living on Earth’s interview with Jeff Goodell pointed out that one of the good things about it is that the very idea of geo-engineering underlines the fact that humans are, in fact, in a position to change the Earth’s climate, consciously or otherwise, and for better or for worse. So even if most geo-engineering proposals sound pretty wild, it could be useful to give them an airing. In the end, are wild ideas about renewable energy and green cities really wilder than continually injecting millions of reflective particles into the stratosphere, or setting off nuclear bombs on the moon?

(Hey, maybe we could send a few of those climate-skeptic meteorologists to the moon to forecast what effect that will have. Joe Bastardi in space…)


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