The weather is not the climate but…

The weather is not the climate but…

As you already know, weather and climate shouldn’t be confused for each other, as the weather is the atmospheric conditions you observe around you and over a very short period of time, while the climate is the (very) long term trend of the same variables: temperature, humidity, pressure, wind, precipitation etc.

It is often tempting to use the weather – or any kind of information – to confirm our own thoughts on any matter, but scientists warn to be very careful in doing so because the scale of our human observations is not suited to infer where the climate is heading. Nevertheless, when it comes to communication, “the weather still has one big advantage over every other argument about the urgency of climate change: We experience the weather. We see it and feel it.” claims David Leonhardt in his NYT end of the year oped.

Map showing the anomalies in temperature (°C) estimated from ERA5 during the 5-day period of 25-29 June 2019. (Credit: ECMWF, Copernicus Climate Change Service).

Here in Europe, we have certainly felt and seen the late June 2019 Heatwave, exactly in the days when our article on rising energy demand for space cooling was published in Nature Communication. The media coverage happened to be huge, as all the newspapers related the striking high temperatures of these days with the undergoing heavy use of AC and the associated peaks in energy demand across Europe. As our study projected an increase of 11-58% of energy demand at mid-century because of climate change, it surely made a good story in those days for the media outlets.

Our paper was in fact featured in almost 60 news outlets and blogs all over the world, from Canada to India, with dozens of original articles in Europe, a few radio interviews as well, and even a video made on purpose! The most notable original press articles were published in Italy’s main newspaper La Repubblica, on France 24 and Sud-Ouest for France and Bloomberg and Axiom for the US.

As this heatwave gracefully passed away in a few days, let’s see now if our next paper on AC and Thermal Insulation in OECD countries gains the same attention.