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Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See for full contents of our site

January 31, 2010


Reader Samson - Chaos theory comes from studying the weather. And fractals. Both started with a weather researcher named Mandlebrot and his discovery of how the beat of a butterfly in one place can create a hurricane in another.

The systems are far too complicated to be understood by bumper sticker politics. Run a globe view or a sat view for awhile and watch all the swirling circles of storms and systems and the rotation patterns that emerge. . .

Warmer might mean more evaporation in one place. Which can mean more snowfall or growing glaciers in a place downwind despite a generally warmer world. Changes in temperature patterns can move those big swirls one way or another, or move the jet stream up down or sideways. Some of what we've learned about El Nino and Nina point to weather patterns that span multiple years, all of which can change subtly or drastically with changes in temperatures.

We are not in a steady state time right now. Instead, we are in a time of change. That's what global warming means. Change. It's not the same as it was. And next year won't be the same as this year was. It's getting warmer. It's changing.

That means if you studied the weather by memorizing the patterns of the past, then forget about them.

But it also means, don't necessary look for new patterns. We are in a time of flux. Almost certainly until human society either crashes and burns or somehow achieves some stable, sustainable equilibrium. The very fact that humans have disturbed the natural weather patterns by our gas emissions means that we are a time of change. Don't expect stability any time soon.

Your typical government bureaucrat is going to have trouble dealing with this. The people who like their weather 'predictable' are not going to like this era much.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The sun does not 'rise' nor 'set'. We turn to face it in the morning and turn away from it at night. You may as well call the earth flat.

January 31, 2010 8:54 PM  
Blogger m said...

Chaos theory and fractals, while possibly not named as such, go back significantly before mathmatical studies of the weather. And way before Benoit Mandelbrot.

February 1, 2010 8:16 AM  

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