Here is a good article by Adam Voiland for the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York. It explains why it’s irresponsible to get lazy when talking at parties about climate change, whether you are disputing climate change’s existence or worried that last summer’s heat waves in the Northeastern United States marked a more dramatic speed of changing conditions.

It’s not correct to say that climate change doesn’t exist, because that flies in the face of scientific consensus. It’s also wrong to say that last summer’s heat in the Northeastern United States—as Voiland put it—”created the impression of global warming run amuck in those regions.”

Climate change is all about global averages. I do not think it helps to always talk about climate with local examples. Last summer, June through August 2010, represented the fourth-warmest summer period in 131 years. The summer of 2009 was the second warmest.

NASA Goddard director James Hansen said: “Unfortunately, it is common for the public to take the most recent local seasonal temperature anomaly as indicative of long-term climate trends.” They created maps “to help people understand that the temperature anomaly in one place in one season has limited relevance to global trends.”

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