Saturday, January 23, 2016

A Hypothetical Situation

     Suppose there were a large group of U.S. citizens who followed a certain major religion. All of these followers appear to be good citizens. However, a very tiny minority have been performing egregious atrocities which have received worldwide condemnation. What would be your feelings toward this group as a whole? Here are a few scenarios from which to choose:

     1)   Do not allow any more followers of this religion to enter the United States. Normally we have not put up barriers to followers of a particular religion, but there is precedent for it. In 1939 the ship Saint Louis, carrying 937 Jewish passengers attempting to escape from Hitler’s Germany, was turned away. The ship returned to Europe, and 254 of the passengers became victims of Hitler’s final solution to “the Jewish problem.” The rest were allowed refuge by other European countries.
     2)   Sequester those followers who are already here into relocation camps, as was done to American citizens of Japanese ancestry during WWII.
       3)   Allow these people to immigrate to the United States provided they convert to an acceptable religion.
     4)   Do not allow followers of this religion access to areas where there is a high concentration of people, such as schools, churches, etc.
       5)   Change nothing. Continue as always.

     After you have carefully considered your feelings about this situation, scroll down to the last paragraph.










The hypothetical situation referred to is that of the Catholic religion and the egregious actions of a minute number of priests regarding young boys. Would you like to rethink your reactions?
     My books, “There Are Only Seven Jokes” and “The Spirit Runs Through It” are available in paperback or Kindle at Amazon.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Meteorologists and Climatologists

Recent letters to the editor indicate a common misunderstanding of the difference between meteorologists and climatologists. Without going into the argument for or against human-caused climate change, I should like to clarify this difference.

Meteorology is the interdisciplinary scientific study of the atmosphere using traditional tools: the thermometer, barometer, anemometer, and hygrometer, along with modern tools such as radar, earth-observing satellites and computer modeling. Because of their effect on weather forecasting, the study of certain specific conditions, such as El Niño, the North Atlantic Oscillation, etc., is also important. The focus is on short term weather phenomena and forecasting, normally several days or weeks.

Climatology is the study of climate, scientifically defined as weather conditions averaged over a period of time. Its tools are ice cores and tree rings, along with meteorological data accumulated over many years: rainfall, temperature, atmospheric composition, etc. The results are incorporated into computer models in an attempt to forecast changes in climate. A climatologist will attempt to forecast what the earth’s climate will be like 100 years from now, but his ability to predict next week’s weather is probably no better than a change in my arthritis pain.

The point is, if you want a forecast of the next week’s weather, ask a meteorologist – if you want a forecast of the next century’s climate, ask a climatologist.
My books, “There Are Only Seven Jokes” and “The Spirit Runs Through It” are available in paperback or Kindle at Amazon.