Previous: Warm Things for Cold Times
Next: Giving Away Over $700,000



View count:505,695
Last sync:2023-01-09 06:15
In which Hank talks about why it's cold, and why extreme weather makes us talk about global warming, and why this is precisely the wrong way to think about...average global atmospheric energy increase.

Flula raps about the Polar Vortex
Good morning John and good morning to all my chilly American friends. It's actually really nice here in Montana right now. And frankly, it gets to like negative 20 once every year here so I don't know what everyone's complaining about but...

[series of news reports saying "polar vortex"]

[clip of Flula: Polar vortex you are not my buddy, I would give you the finger but it's hiding in my snuggie]

Polar vortex, polar vortex, polar vortex!

I've never heard of it, where did it come from, why do we have a polar vortex all of a sudden?

Okay, well polar vortices are cyclones that exist around the poles, both poles, and are causes by the temperature being different at the equator than it is at the pole; which happens and has been happening since the world existed. All of the planets that have atmospheres have polar vortices.

Usually we don't get the same little offshoot that we got that dipped down into America and sat there for a little while. It was colder in George than it was in Alaska. It's weird, I agree. But the weird events always make us talk about global warming when really this is the exact opposite of the way to think about global warming.

Saying that it's cold here, that means global warming doesn't exist is like saying I have a calculator which is proof that Jean-Claude Van Damme eats turnips.

I've been thinking about this a lot 'cause it's super annoying; and I think the problem is that global warming is a terrible name for the thing that global warming is. It makes it sound like things are gonna get warmer. And yes, we are talking about an overall average increase in global temperatures. But the amount of temperature increase that would be truly disastrous on a global scale is like not even noticeable on a local scale.

If the planet heated up 4 degrees Celsius, that would be a disaster. But if your town heated up 4 degrees Celsius, no one would even talk about it. The scientific community is more interested in calling it "global climate change" because that points out that it's not about warming. All sorts of things are going to happen; it's going to get warmer in some places and colder in other places, it's not gonna rain in places, like it's going to effect the entire climate.

But I think that doesn't really get at the really problem here. the real problem isn't with the climate change or the warming, it's with the global. We are terrible at thinking globally. It's just really - it's impossible to do. 

Okay I got an idea, everybody get a pen and a piece of paper. I'm gonna write down, as a fairly informed person, a member of the people who think about things a lot, what percent of the area I think the US takes up. And then I'm going to look it up.

Okay, I said 5 percent which I thought was like- a good underestimation of the size that I think the US is. It is in fact 1.9 percent. That's the whole United States including Alaska which is really big. I mean we know that we're not the center of the universe but do we really know that? It doesn't seem like it.

So here's how I think about it. I don't think about the weather when I think about global warming. I don't think about the climate when I think about global warming. Global warming is just an overall increase in the amount of energy trapped in the atmosphere. And that energy can be trapped as evaporated water or wind or heat or hurricanes or polar vortices. It's just energy. And the amount of energy is increasing, no one can argue with that. And as the amount of energy increases the globe warms on average and the climate changes. 

Talking about it as energy separates it from that thing in my head and allows me to think about it the way that it actually is, rather than applying it to my every day experiences which have nothing to do with anything global! Not that "average global atmospheric energy increase" is a super catching name or anything, but that's how I think about it; and I feel like people would be more accepting of the idea if we talked about it as an energy increase.

I could be wrong, and I'm not gonna change everything with a video blog. But that's how I think of it and I thought I would share.

John, I'll see you on Tuesday. But first, here's some stuff from my photoshoot wearing Alex Day's clothes

[Look At Hank's Face plays to pictures of photoshoot]