There is a survey floating around today saying that people around the world are united in their belief that global warming is a serious cause and worth fighting. I’m not going to argue that one either way — although it is interesting that Australia, China, and Israel lead the world in worriedness, which buttresses my longstanding view that China represents the solution to global environmental worries — but I want to point out something else.
It is this: People have no idea a) how variable the weather is, and b) what the usual weather is where they live. Think anyone has a clue what the standard deviation is of daily/weekly/monthly rainfall in their home city? You can bet they don’t, so how do they, assuming a quasi-normal distribution, have any idea what constitutes unusual weather on a day-to-day basis? (And you could say the same thing about temperatures).
Bottom line, climate is a dynamic system, and asking people to find anomalies based on their day-to-day (and even year-to-year) experience is akin to looking for patterns in daily trading in the stock market. It’s a waste of time, one that tells you more about what they read in the morning paper than anything meaningful.