Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Coming apart at an accelerating rate

Think of it as a tightly woven ball of yarn that is gradually, under centrifugal forces, coming unwound. I find this visualization of global temperature increases quite scary.
I understand that the Celsius scale is how science thinks about temperature, but I am convinced that part of why people in the United States have such a hard time thinking abstractly about human induced climate change is that we think in Fahrenheit. Just for reference, 1.5 degrees Celsius equals 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit; 2 degrees C means 3.6 F. The metric system, including the C scale, is used by all the earth except the 3 percent located in the United States.

Both systems date from the early 18th century, but the C system was included in the metric system in 1790. English speaking countries mostly held out for Fahrenheit until the 20th century, but the United Kingdom led a shift to C in 1965. Congress passed a law in 1975 that would have encouraged a transition to the world standard, but since it was voluntary, and our right-wing friends didn't truck with no imported measuring systems, the attempt crashed under Reagan. Thanks, Ron and the Reps -- setting back science however they can.

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