There’s always talk of how dry, or wet, or cold, or hot things have been lately. It’s human nature to talk about the weather and, because the weather happens on relatively short time spans, that makes sense. We are talking about our experiences and perceptions. Makes for something to talk about with the neighbours.
It’s when the talk of the weather turns into changing public policy, think about raising or lowering the weir up at Lake Cowichan for example, that our human limitations in accurately remembering make for a dangerous situation. The amount of rain, for example, has been much talked about lately. Global warming they say, or something bigger anyway, must be happening.
Except, based on the simple observations and record-keeping, the cornerstone of actual science, nothing is actually happening. Things are more or less as they have always been. The precipitation records for the Cowichan Valley in fact demonstrate a small increase in rainfall over the last century. It’s actually not drier, but wetter.
The key thing is the huge yearly and decadal variations that fool our much shorter recollections into seeing trends where they are not. Of course if one fervently believes something, science and facts won’t matter. When a new piece of information disagrees with our deeply held belief, we have two choices. One, we can change our belief to incorporate new facts or, two, we can change the facts to fit our current beliefs.
Unfortunately, the history of human knowledge and science is littered with the skeletons of beliefs that were held onto far too long, often at a cost of great misery to many.
Does the chart below challenge or confirm your beliefs?