Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Is it hot out? You betcha! Do you want to bet me?

I'd planned to say some more about the Low Carbon Diet this week, but found I couldn't ignore the elephant in the room that is the current heat wave. I'll come back to the Low Carbon Diet in a later post.

When the weather is out of the ordinary one way or another, people often bring climate change into the conversation. We saw that this past winter with its freakish snowstorms pummeling Washington, DC and other cities unaccustomed to severe winter weather while at the same time Buffalo, NY (where I live) had its shortest snow season on record. Our first measurable snow was December 1 and our last was February 28 -- unprecedented. The current heat wave is intense and, I think, generally unpleasant. But is it global warming?

We can't say. It's unusual weather, but it's not freakish for our climate.

Bryan Welsh, writing for, does a nice job of fleshing out the issues related to pinning anomalous weather on climate change. I really found his blog post, Turning Up the Heat on Climate Change, well reasoned with a set of graphs I found especially interesting. Here are those graphs:

We can't look at the weather from one particularly unusual day or week and make a definitive statement that it is or is not the result of a changing climate. We can't make reliable forecasts of specific dates that are beyond several days out. But we can look at trends and note that the likelihood of certain has increased, decreased or remained the same.

We know that humans are changing atmospheric chemistry in ways that both models and the wealth of weather and climate data we have indicate changes are likely. We know that record breaking heat has become more common and record breaking cold has become less common.

This line of thinking led me to place a wager a few years ago that the warmest year on record will happen in the next few years. I'm pleased that I haven't won that bet yet but I've still got a couple years. I wouldn't bet much on this year or next year being the warmest on record, but I would (and did) bet that one of the years in the next five will be. I'd bet more if the duration was extended to ten years. If I'd made the bet that the warmest year on record globally would be in the next ten in any year since the early 1960s, I'd have won the bet. The graph below shows the data.

So, I'll extend the offer for that bet here (with certain caveats). Here's the bet:

I will bet $100 to the first three takers that at least one of the years between 2011 and 2020 (inclusive) will set a record for being the warmest year globally (since the beginning of instrumental global temperature record keeping in the latter 1800s) according to NASA data, barring a major volcanic eruption, major asteroid or meteor impact, or nuclear war. (Isn't that cheery?)

I'd go higher, but I work for a non-profit and it's just a likely thing, not a sure thing.

I'll also pledge to spend my winnings on something to lower my carbon emissions.

Is ten years too long a term? I'll go $5 each for the first five takers that one of the following dates will set a record high for its associated city in the remainder of this year.



July 12

July 14

July 16

July 18

August 7

August 17

August 19

August 24

September 6

September 18

September 19

October 3

October 4

October 9

October 30

November 1

November 25

November 27

December 8

December 14

December 19

December 28

December 31

July 14

July 20

July 24

July 27

August 21

August 22

September 8

September 11

September 15

September 17

October 1

October 9

October 12

October 15

October 19

October 20

November 8

November 25

December 1

December 11

December 18

December 26

December 30

January 28 is tempting, but I wanted to keep it to 2010.

How did I pick these dates? Be the first to answer and you'll get extra credit! What do you get for getting extra credit? Well, I'll mention you in a future post. Whoo-hoo! I'll note that I correctly made a similar bet a few years ago with my students and the prediction came to proved correct. And one of my students did get extra credit for figuring out how I made the prediction.

You can check back to this page to see how I'm doing. Here's the weather info for both cities. It will refresh when you reload the page.

1 comment:

garima said...

Let us unite together against global warming, pollution and save endangered species.
Environmental sustainability is one of Millennium Development Goals which is to be achieved by 2015


Globally more than 173 Million people stood up against poverty and other goals (MDG’s) in 2009, a Guinness World Record!

Let us break this record in 2010!

Be the voice for the millions of poor people living across India.


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