Thoughts on storms, teacups and mindsets

onweer

Until a couple weeks ago the summer of 2013 sucked big time. But then we got sunny weather at last. People were longing for a long time for this kind of weather and breathed a sigh of relief when it finally came. The coastal cities, that complained because hotel reservations were very low, now had full house. At work we heard on the radio that this weather was “extremely well”.

Then came the news that we might have a heatwave (5 days of minimum 25 °C and 3 days of minimum 30 °C). I was expecting the worse, for example people taking this heatwave directly after a bad winter and bad spring and a bad start of summer as proof of global warming (or climate change or climate disruption or whatever). To my surprise this was only minimal. Most of the reactions were extremely positive, more like “Hey, we will have a heatwave! How nice!”. I didn’t expect that. In the end we officially got our heatwave on Thursday. Most people seemed to enjoyed it, even longing for more.

After such a period of warm weather, the chance of having a thunderstorm is really high. We got one this morning. First it was cloudy, humid and rather warm. Then the first drops began to fall and from the South-West side it began to get much darker. There were impressive waving clouds and white upwelling clouds. Then lighting started and rain was pouring. After ten minutes the worst part was over. After that still lots of rain. After an hour or so the rain stopped and the sun started to shine again. We had a nice day afterwards.

Thunderstorm July 27, 2013. Image: buienradar.be

Thunderstorm July 27, 2013. Image: buienradar.be

I don’t want to minimize it. It was a hefty thunderstorm with heavy wind and loads of rain in a very short time frame. So there is a high chance it will create problems somewhere, somehow. But in my lifetime I have been through several thunderstorms before and I was not particularly alarmed by it. But I can imagine that some people would take this thunderstorm as an additional proof that climate change is real and is happening right now. You know. We tend to seek patterns around us. It is all about the mindset. If I would hear day-in-day-out that our climate is changing and we get more extreme weather because of CO2, then this storm could well fit the pattern and it comes natural to add it to the list of proofs of climate change. That is what the mindset is about. Been there, done that.

For example, when Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, I was still a believer. Before the event I had seen a documentary about New Orleans. In that documentary a scientist explained that hurricanes hit New Orleans on a regularly basis in the past and that they were already overdue for a big one. Yet when later was said that Katrina was an example of global warming in action … I just believed it. Not bothered by this knowledge I believed the statement, because it fitted my beliefs perfectly and therefor ignoring the inconvenient piece of information. If I would still been a believer, I guess I would see this storm as proof of extreme weather. Not because of the data, but because it fitted my beliefs.

It seems inevitable. How long would it take before someone uses this thunderstorm to connect it with extreme weather/global warming/climate disruption? In four, three, two, one…

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