The weather is constantly changing. Everyone can agree on that.
Ask anyone who lives in an area that experiences four seasons. They'll tell you if you don't like the weather now, just wait a few hours, it'll change.
What about the climate?
Ask those same people about climate change, and a friendly conversation about the weather quickly turns into a heated political debate.
Last week, a group of scientists released the National Climate Assessment. This report was created by more than 300 experts. These are experts in a multitude of fields who came together to look at something as complex as the earth's climate.
Their conclusion: the climate's changing, and it's changing fast, most likely because of human activity.
So why is it so difficult for people to accept Earth's climate is changing, while changing weather is less worrisome?
A change in the weather is easy to notice. Weather is an everyday experience, and these changes can be abrupt. A day can begin with sunshine, and then clouds can move in right before a rain shower. That's easy to spot.
Climate is tougher to pin down. Climate is the average of the daily weather over the course of multiple years. It's more gradual. So instead of getting a little wet after a sudden afternoon rain shower, now we're looking at a multitude of things ranging from temperature, humidity, and rainfall amounts among many other data points.
The National Climate Assessment looked at all of those things, including significant severe weather events. They found heat waves, drought, heavy downpours and floods were occurring more across the United States. They also found these events were more severe compared to the past. The findings are true for hurricanes and winter storms, too. These large-scale storms have increased in frequency and intensity since the 1950's.
That's the scariest part of this report. Before the industrial revolution, these changes were slow. Now it's happening more quickly.
Earth's climate has been changing since the beginning of time. The earth was much warmer when dinosaurs ruled, and at the other end of the spectrum, the ice age saw glaciers that covered northern parts of the United States.
Before we started burning fossil fuels, it was more like, "if you don't like the climate, just wait a thousand years, it'll change," but now we may only have to wait a hundred years -- a relative blink of the eye for Mother Nature.
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