Friday, October 16, 2009

Climate Change

So I had signed myself up for Blog Action Day, on October 15th, and then forgot about it. The topic was Climate Change, and I had a vague idea of what I wanted to discuss. But this past week I've been helping my son with a big term paper, running around town running a lot of errands, and it slipped my mind. It didn't help that it had been over a month since my last post on the blog. But better late than never.

I met a fellow grad student back in 1990 that was planning to do his dissertation on climate modeling. Dr. Hansen gave his famous senate testimony about global warming in 1988, and this was now a hot topic in scientific circles. This particular student was fascinated by all the mathematical modeling involved and how so many different aspects of physics and chemistry had to be involved.

I'll never forget a long conversation we had about the changing climate. Even then he thought it was more important to call it climate change instead of global warming, because he believed that the key change was the increased amount of energy in the system. The planet heats up, sure, but heat is just energy, and all that energy can go into other things as well. The oceans heat up, the air heats up. This leads to more storms, deadlier storms, changing weather patterns, etc.

It all sounds sort of prescient nowadays.