Weather vs. climate: A mosaic about one of my pet peeves

batman slap robin climate change
If my mosaic were a meme, it would be this.

My blood boils every time I hear someone say, “Man, it’s so cold out! So much for global warming, eh?” We’re talking a fist-clenching, teeth-grinding level of frustration and anger. So what do I do about it (other than correct someone every time they make such a boneheaded statement)? I make a mosaic about it, of course!

So let’s get things straight, shall we? First let’s talk about the difference between climate change and global warming. Climate change is not exclusively about things getting warmer—this is why we don’t refer to it as global warming anymore—climate change affects both warm and cold regions of the world and is about more than just temperature (e.g., precipitation, sea level, etc.).

And the distinction between weather and climate can be summed up with the phrase: “Climate is what you expect; weather is what you get,” which basically boils down to the fact that weather is what you see on any given day out your window (the short-term, immediate stuff), while climate is the global average taken over a much longer time period. Climate is not weather, and cold or snowy weather does not disprove climate change (much to the chagrin of snowball-throwing Republican senators). But here, how about we take 2 minutes and let a real scientist—Neil deGrasse Tyson—explain it to us using a really simple example: Follow the man, not the dog.

With that cleared up, now let’s have a look at the mosaic I made. The terracotta trendline is meant to represent rising global temperatures from a variety of climate models (they may all be slightly different, but they’re all headed in the same general direction). I used the copper wire because it’s a good conductor of heat, which I thought was appropriate. And the blue smalti punctuating the piece here and there? Those are those pesky snowy, cold blips. They’re there, yes, but they don’t disturb the trend. Not much else to say about this piece. It was a fun one, and I’m thinking of maybe doing a second one on the same theme (just a different way of representing it visually), so stay tuned!

Julie Sperling "Weather is not climate" mosaic
“Weather is not climate” (2015), 10″ x 10″, marble, stone, terracotta, smalti, beads, copper wire
Julie Sperling "Weather is not climate" mosaic
A closer look at the trendline with the cold-weather blips
Julie Sperling "Weather is not climate" mosaic
Close-up of the little copper outliers poking up here and there


Let me know what you think!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.