23 thoughts on “Watt’s up with xkcd?

  1. Astonishing precocity, Prof. Ceiling Cat: to be able to leave St. Louis at only six weeks old. Will this cat come back?

    1. (but moved away only six weeks later).

      Sorry, but I’m watching the weekend’s “Family Guy” episodes, and I’m just channelling Stewie (the psycopathic World-domination,-fast baby) when I read this.

  2. At my little hut in the jungle, the porch thermometer is creeping up to 30C, bees are swarming at the back window and some pesky mosquitos are trying to bite my leg. Eat your heart out.

  3. That’s why I get annoyed with these headlines that have the following format: Past [time period x] was the hottest in [time period y]

    Where time period y > time period x

    Because then you know that the wattsupwiththat lunatics will strike back at some point with the format: Past [time period a] was the coldest in [time period b]

    It shouild be all about trends, and the above two formats are all about stochastics. By using the former format, you’re open to attack with the latter format and any substantive debate goes out the window.

  4. I live in Ithaca, NY, and teach at Cornell, which (according to our alma mater) is “far above Cayuga’s waters.” Today, in the middle of January and despite two “polar votices” it’s still Cayuga’s waters, not ice. When I first started teaching at Cornell (back in the Pleistocene 1970s), Cayuga Lake routinely froze over end to end (45 miles), sometimes thick enough that trucks could drive across it. Indeed, in the late 1800s, there was a thriving industry in Ithaca, cutting two-foot-thick ice blocks from the lake and shipping them in railroad boxcars full of sawdust to ice boxes in New York city. Even as late as the 1980s people still dragged ice fishing shacks out onto the lake, where they remained until just before breakup in the spring. Fast forward to today: despite almost a week of sub-zero (F) weather, the only ice on Cayuga’s waters is a thin sheet of crumbling rime extending about 100 yards out from the southern shore at Stewart Park. The rest of the lake (all 45 miles of it) is open water; COLD open water, but liquid nonetheless. So, is global warming real? Can we observe climatic trends in things like the immense latent heat of a few billion gallons of liquid lake water, warmed over the decades to the point that it simply just won’t freeze over any more?

  5. As someone who lives on the southern edge of the frost belt, it is extremely annoying that people think this way – so much so, that they design and build buildings assuming that what happens (or happened, anyway) once every five years never happens. We had pipes bursting all over the place because it got down to 20 F a couple of weeks ago. Never mind that the record low for Jasnuary here is 7F.

  6. I did a very rough “back of the envelope” calculation based on “cold snaps meeting criteria X” (from the article “Scientists say that we are becoming weather wimps”.

    Using a Poisson process to model the cold snaps where “lambda = 4” per 16 year period, we’ve experienced a p = .09 caliber event. (17 years between cold snaps of this type).

  7. Meanwhile, California is in the midst of a nasty drought, one that’s going to do bad things to our produce supplies. Worse, there are historical signs that the region has had dry spells like the current one that have lasted for decades if not centuries. If we’re heading into such a period — and global warming could certainly trigger that sort of thing — the economic and social devastation that would follow would make the rust belt look like a success story.

    Fasten your seat belts, folks…things are likely to get much worse and for a long time before they get better.


  8. “Note of great interest: Professor Ceiling Cat was born in St. Louis (but moved away only six weeks later).”

    I was born in Toronto but moved away after only seven weeks.

    Coincidence or cosmic connection? You be the judge.

Leave a Reply to Timothy HughbanksCancel reply