Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Climatology vs. Meteorology

The former is the study of climate, or long term trends in temperatures and other weather related conditions, the latter is, of course, the study of meteors... or rather it should be, but instead is the poorly named study of short term weather patterns and, usually, broadcast journalism.  Apparently, there is a debate between (some) meteorologists and climatologists about global warming.  To be clear, the vast majority of both groups agree that climate change is real and exacerbated by human activities, however, almost a third of meteorologists dissent (compared to less than ten percent of climatologists).  Of course, this is just another example of how the media plays up two sides to a story and gives them equal credence despite the fact that the two sides are most definitely not equal.  Most meteorologists have only a "4 year" degree that prepares them to be tv weather personalities (generally covering a broad range of topics including weather, climatology, communications and broadcasting).  By contrast, climatologists are, by and large, PhDs who, in addition to a comparable bachelor's ("4 yr.") degree. have several years of graduate and post-graduate experience studying and actively researching climate.  So to claim that meteorologists are qualified to debate climatologists on climate change would be like me claiming authority in a debate with an astronomer about whether or not Pluto is a planet simply because I had a couple semesters of Physics as part of my undergraduate biology degree.
Pluto is not a planet, and I am not an astronomer.
Climate change is real, and it is impacted by human activities...
And a meteorologist is not the same thing as a climatologist.  But then, I think this video demonstrates the point pretty clearly...
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Science Catfight - Joe Bastardi vs. Brenda Ekwurzel
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorHealth Care Reform
And for those who are wondering, the reason is put "4 year degree" in quotes is because I know many people who have taken more than 4 years to get their Bachelor's degree (and I know some who have done it in 3).

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