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Weather, oh weather!

Yesterday evening I drove to Sami's. There was a constant rain. Today's news says that in Norway it has been raining so much that some villages had to be evacuated due to flooding. In coastal areas of Finland the water levels have also been high, but no damages reported. But the temperatures have been record high, considering that it is the beginning of December. So, I think this is what global climate change means in Fenno-Scandia. "Yearly average temperature rising by +2°C" somehow sounds like a little, nice thing. But what this statistical average actually means is a heck lot of daily details - the scientists can predict the overall average, but nobody knows how the details will be like. Judging by the details we have seen over the past 20 years, there are more extreme weather conditions more often. And this is just the beginning. If the current trend goes on, I wonder how the weather will be in another 20 years.

Well, at the moment I'm polishing the weather simulation for UrW. My test program calculates the weather for three years and dumps the hourly data into a text file. Which gives me about 26 000 lines of weather data. I'm scrolling up and down the text file, keeping my eye on temperature changes, snow thickness, wind speed, amount of rain etc. And trying to decide if the variation I see is OK, or if it is too extreme. For example, my previous test run gave me two years which seemed to be rather normal, and one year which had a mild winter and a cold summer, night time temperatures often falling below freezing even in July. And these 26 000 lines of data is not nearly enough to judge if my simulation gives this kind of extreme weather conditions once in a hundred years (which would be okay) or once in three years (which would be far too often). So I will just run my test program again and again, browse through the debug file and see how it feels. Just a tiny little adjustment in one variable might result in dramatic increase or decrease in the frequency of summertime freezing temperatures.

And this is what we are seeing in the real world weather patterns. Tiny changes in many variables which affect the daily details of local weather. Some of those changes are somewhat predictable, and some of those changes are completely unpredictable. Sometimes I hear people saying that global climate change is nothing to worry about - in the history of the Earth the climate has been changing, so why it should be a disaster? It is just a natural phenomenon which has happened many times before. Well, sure. But according to all the data we can get, this time the change is much more faster than any of the previous climate changes on Earth. Of course the climate change does not mean a sudden biblical apocalypse which would wipe out all the life in one go. But what if the increased frequency of extreme weather conditions will result in global food production decreasing by 30%, two years in a row? I'd bet that would lead to food prices skyrocketing, which would most likely lead to mass social unrest. I don't know if things like that are something to be taken lightly. Personally, I'd like to see the mankind co-operating in a rational way to reduce the risks of uncontrolled global climate change. But when was the last time you saw the mankind co-operating in a rational and a benevolent way? Sigh.

coding at Sami's
coding at Sami's
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Ah, the climate change discussion. I know of fewer things that will start such a heated argument between people. XD

I don't know what to think of it, myself. Our weather here has just been generally warmer, but not chaotic. Just warmer, with a longer growing season. I think the reality of climate change is probably somewhere in-between the "ah it is nothing" attitude of the one side and the "aaaah disaster" attitude of the other side. But I don't know. I try to stay out of that discussion, as it seems to generate strong feelings on both sides, hehe.

I do think that, at least over here, climate change is sometimes over-politicized, and used by slimy politicians just to achieve their own ends (or those of the people who have given them the most money), so that makes some people think that maybe everything about climate change is just political nonsense. But yeah, I think it's somewhere in-between, personally.... :3

The food production situation, on the other hand, that scares the hell out of me regardless of climate change. They say that over here we only have about 6 days worth of food available to the whole of the general population at once. If that was interrupted by something, whether it be crop blight or war or disaster or whatever, I think there would be serious baddness. :O

Outside of some rural people here, /nobody/ grows and preserves /any/ of their own food anymore. If something happened, I don't think many people would even know how. Everyone just relies on the system to provide for them instead of even just stepping just a little bit outside of it, to do for themselves. It concerns me... Every time there is a natural disaster somewhere here, we see the people struggling to cope, but they didn't /do/ anything ahead of time or even /plan/ for an interruption from normalcy, and seem to just expect someone /else/ to take care of them instead of doing for themselves. And that seems kind of irresponsible and self-entitled to me...

But maybe I am just crazy, lol. >_> And I apologize for my ranting, lol...... Ah I hope I haven't said anything offensive here, hehe.

Uh, anyway......

There was a source book for 1st edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons that was called "The Wilderness Survival Guide". It had a large set of tables on it, based on historical weather data, that could be randomly perturbed in various ways to generate sensible weather patterns. It was very tedious to do that by hand, though, so I wrote a Pascal program on the Apple 2 to generate a year's worth of weather at a time and dump it to a dot-matrix printer. I still have the printouts around here somewhere, but the program is long lost. Ah the bad old days. XD

Yup. I've been thinking about writing (a yet another) blog entry about my thoughts on discussion. And why rational discussion is so hard. To put it short; to me it seems that too many people are too quick to get offended, and when people get offended their rationality decreases and any discussion degenerates into a non-productive quarrel. Well well. But let's take a look at one of those not-so-rational ways of thinking.

1. In the history there have been numerous religious cults preaching the apocalypse, even givin exact dates for it. And the apocalypse never came.
2. Therefore, it is safe to reason that anybody talking about any kind of apocalypse is just a delusional freak.
3. There is not going to be any apocalypse, nor any major disaster. Our civilization, our culture, our technology they are superior and nothing is threatening our way of life.
4. Therefore we don't need to prepare for any kind of disaster. Hungry? Go to a restaurant. Need something? Go buy it from a shopping mall. A problem? Wait for someone else to solve it. Easy like that!

Well, that line of reasoning might be soothing and comfortable for many people. But personally I find that somewhat fallacious, omitting some actual historical data, and failing some obvious rules of logical reasoning. Hehe, I'm not going to dive into the details in this comment, maybe it is enough if I just say that arguments 2. and 3. are over-optimistic. The history knows many examples of mighty civilizations which have just collapsed, for a reason or another. And if that has happened numerous times before, there is nothing which makes our current civilization somehow different.

And I think Mr. Polecat here accurately describes some of the mechanisms which makes a vast majority of population extremely vulnerable to sudden effects of abnormal conditions of nature. A day might come when the bread shelves at the shopping mall are mostly empty. That would make masses go hungry. And a hungry crowd, it can do a lot of desperate things. (To be more clear, here when I say "sudden", I mean something in scale of two years or so).

EDIT:
PS. One more clarification;
I'm not saying that I think "Apocalypse is coming! Our civilization is about to collapse!". No, I'm just saying that we can't rule that option out. I'm saying that a some sort of major disaster is possible. Then, of course, it becomes a question of estimating the likelihood of such a disaster. If, given all the available data and all the best science, the likelihood of a disaster would be estimated to be 1 out of 1 000 000, then I'd say that we don't need to worry about it. Alas, to me it seems that given all the best science we have, the likelihood of a major disaster is high enough to be considered seriously.

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