Climate and the butterfly in Brazil

You may think that the weather outside your window is a consequence of the prevailing climate. But that would be the cart before the horse. Without weather there is no climate.

Climate is to weather as evolution is to reproduction.

Evolution is just a label given to the result of many, many individual survival and reproduction events. Evolution is not a “force” which directs who will survive and who will not or which individuals will reproduce and who will not. Evolution is then the name we give to the resultant changes in the genetic make-up of species as individuals of that species survive and reproduce (or fail to reproduce where  the species goes extinct). The survival and reproduction of individuals changes as the environment they live in changes. Evolution is thus the global, net result of the millions of successful, local, individual matings, and of the many more millions of failures to reproduce. Natural selection is merely a record of those that manged to survive and reproduce and thereby “deselected” all the failures. Without environmental change first causing a change in which individuals survive and then reproduce, there can be no evolutionary change (except due to random mutations).  Similarly there is no great driving force called climate which determines the weather outside your window. Climate is the label we give to the summation of all the local weathers in a region or around the globe as being the climate of that region or of the world. Just as resulting evolution and evolutionary change is impacted by the local survival or failure of a species, so is resulting climate impacted by weather and by changes to local weather patterns. Climate is a calculated result, an average, of  myriads of local weather events

Without reproduction and consequent genetic change there is nothing to be called evolution. There is no evolutionary change if a species is genetically static – if it’s surroundings and its growth are unchanged.  Similarly there is no climate change if local weather patterns remain static. And without individual events of local weather there can be no average to be called climate.

The weather we each experience locally outside our windows covers a very wide range. Within a few minutes, on any day of the year we can experience temperature changes of  5 – 10ºC as clouds appear or it starts blowing or if it rains or if it snows. Winds can vary from virtually still upto over 100km/h in the midst of a storm. Every single day we see a change of around 10ºC between day and night. Over a period of a week it would not be unusual to have a temperature change of even 20ºC. Over a year a temperature variation of 60ºC (+35ºC on the warmest day to – 25ºC on the coldest) could be expected at my latitude.

Politically correct “climate science” today takes it for granted that any unpleasant warming of the earth, or uncomfortable cooling of the earth, or increased frequency of storms, or copious amounts of rainfall and any resulting flood, or no rainfall and any resulting drought, or any unduly severe hurricanes is – by virtue of its unpleasantness – due to man-made climate change. And man’s evil influence is all manifested by the emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel combustion and the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide!

But in the meantime it is mid-summers day and a cloud has passed over the sun. And when the cloud has passed I will feel a lot warmer than by increasing the carbon dioxide around me!!!!

In the 1960’s Edward Lorenz developed his chaos theory and in 1972 gave his famous talk questioning if the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil could set off a tornado in Texas. (Lorenz Butterfly 1972).

Lorenz 1972

Lorenz 1972

Without reproduction there is no evolution and without local weather there is no climate.

Blaming fossil fuel combustion for climate change is like blaming one poor butterfly in Brazil and ignoring every other bird and insect flapping its wings.


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