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January 6, 2018 2:33 pm

Mr. Trump weather is different from climate

On Teachers’ Day in 2014 a special session of Mr. Modi, the Prime Minister of India, was organized and broadcasted for teachers and students throughout India from a packed Delhi auditorium where seven hundred people, mostly teachers, are reported to have attended the talk. This is the first time in contemporary India that such a mass level program was organized, and attended by millions of students and teachers across India. During the question and answer session one of the girl students from Assam asked Modi about climate change and here is what she actually asked “In Assam we feel very concerned about climate change and its consequences. Sir, how can you help and guide us to protect our pristine environment?” And Mr. Modi replies “See how nowadays even small kids are discussing about climate change and environment change. 70, 80, 85, 90 year old people, when you see them in winters they often say how severe cold it was this winter than the previous one. Don’t they say that? Actually, it is not getting colder, the realityis because of their old age they are unable to bear the cold, and that is why they feel colder. Climate has NOT changed. We have changed.” Prime minster of India seems to have used his common sense and not science to answer the student. He has definitely misunderstood what goes on in making of an authentic scientific statement, which is unfortunate. Such statements from responsible position holders, and particularly public officers, have mushroomed in India in recent years, which is a serious concern that requires attention.


And fortunately, the totally flawed, unscientific and illogical statement from the leader of the second largest countries in the world has dramatically changed over the years and recently Mr. Modi has strongly voiced his concerns about the climate change, and has promised a strong commitment to deal with it, and it is commendable. But such a transition is virtually impossibly in the attitude of Mr. Donald Trump, the United States Precedent, who has consistently, and vehemently argued against climate change. His recent Tweet has sparked further outrage because he made fun of Climate Science and Global Warming by saying “…could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against”. This Tweet has more than 200K likes, which should bother scientific community because it suggests that a large number of people think on similar lines as Mr. Trump! He represents one of the most powerful countries of the globe, and ironically his country has extensively worked on climate change science. He seems to have taken a very dangerous and irrational route to degrade science and its contribution in shaping of our society on the planet Earth and beyond.


So, what is the problem if someone criticizes climate change? Obviously, science will definitely grow if more critical and rational thinking is put forward but the case of Trump is different because he is the person who has absolutely no understanding of climate science. This is clearly reflected from a number of his past statements and above Tweet has just verified his stance on the issue. He has grossly misunderstood climate with weather, which in itself is a testimony of his level of science education. Ask any decent science student and you will discover that climate and weather aredifferent, and the major difference lies in the scale of observation. Generally, scientists consider weather as a combination of daily to weekly fluctuations of temperature, humidity, precipitation, cloudiness, visibility, and wind in the atmosphere of a region. And in contract climate is a long term weather of a region, which is usually averaged over a period 30 years of observations. Trump was referring to weather and not climate. And a large number of serious scientific works have established that increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide gas over the decades have caused an increase in temperature, which is ~2°C. And if we dive down the geological history of the planet Earth we come to know that early Earth had much higher concentration of carbon-dioxide gas (without the humans), and it was removed slowly throughout the geological history. Plus the fact that carbon-dioxide is not the only driver of climate. This becomes obvious when we look at the composition of the air that we breathe. It mainly contains nitrogen (~76%) and oxygen (~21%). The concentration of carbon dioxide is just ~0.038% and the first two major gases in our atmosphere are NOT greenhouse gases, which means that there concentration has probably little to no effect on warming of the atmosphere. And the role of Sun, which is central to the existence of life on the Earth as it provides heat that is required to keep the temperature and atmospheric circulation in balance. So the small amount of greenhouse gases (mainly water vapor, and little of CO2) traps (absorb and re-emit) the infrared radiation, increasing the temperature of the atmosphere. Again we need to look how concentrations of water vapor (the major greenhouse gas in our atmosphere) have changed over the geological time, and compare it with Holocene, that may give us some idea how it plays a role. Similarly we have to map the variations of clouds, the condensed form of water vapor, over the centuries or more to accurately map and understand the role in atmospheric composition, temperature etc. And we know that volcanic eruptions contribute about 1% to the total CO2 budget, and thus this needs to be shown to the public. Apart from this there are also small percentage of naturally occurring other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which includes methane and nitrous oxide. And humans has also contributed some new varieties of synthetic greenhouse gases, which include chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and Perfluorocarbons (PFCs), as well as sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). These gases have also influenced the temperature structure of our atmosphere over the decades of industrial revolution on the planet.

So it seems here we are: the present concentrations of gases in our atmosphere are both natural and man-made. The contribution of each gas in modifying the concentration of greenhouses gases in our atmosphere is still vigorously debated, and most of the scientists agree that anthropogenic CO2is the major contributor, but we are yet to solve the problem over the geological timescale. However, humans ought to be responsible not to aggravate the obvious problems that we are facing right now, and must workout solution for a better future. Please remember that Earth is a delicate system of systems, and we are part of it, any of our wrong actions can alter its delicate balance, which will ultimately destroy life, including us.




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