Friday, November 2, 2012

How Fifth Graders Analyze Hurricane Sandy

Parts in a System of Education
By the Fifth Grade able students know that we live on a globe which has systems that are planet wide in scope: global systems.

One of those systems is the global climate system of the planet Earth.

By then they also know that the planet Earth is part of a larger system, one we call the solar system, which is itself part of yet another and larger system, which is the galactic system of many, many solar systems within what we call The Milky Way Galaxy.

The individual stars and their behaviors are central parts of the solar systems, and they are likewise a part of the galactic system.

The planets orbiting those stars are likewise individual parts of the system, even though they do not all have the same behaviors, movements, size, or looks.

Able Fifth Graders also know that all systems work systematically, so that any systemic event within any system belongs to and functions within and according to that system.

The global climate system on any given planet is composed of individual weather events or parts that are generated by the global climate system of that planet.

All local weather and all individual weather events on the Earth are likewise parts of the whole system, that is, all of the Earth's weather is a systemic part of the global climate system of the Earth.

Local weather events, local parts, do not generate the global climate system, rather, the global climate system generates all local weather events.

For example, the tropical depression which formed south of Jamaica, then became a tropical storm, then eventually morphed into Hurricane Sandy was a part of and within that global climate system of the planet Earth.

That global climate system, like any global Earth system, can be damaged by the endeavors of human civilization, specifically endeavors which we now call pollution.

Any damaged global climate system is still that, a global system, even though it is a damaged system.

However, any damaged system is damaged goods, therefore, that system functions like anything that is damaged will function: in a dysfunctional manner.

The degree of damage determines the degree of dysfunction, so that, as the damage increases the dysfunction increases.

But be that as it may, once the global climate system is damaged and dysfunctional, all weather, whether it be local weather or remote weather, is still a part within a global climate system, a dysfunctional global climate system.

That is why able Fifth Graders will say:
"Hurricane Sandy was a weather phenomenon that happened within a global climate system that has been damaged by the pollution of human civilization, and is therefore weather in a dysfunctional global climate system. Single weather events like Hurricane Sandy are parts of that system which is now dysfunctional because of global warming damage."
Some of the parts of the system, individual weather events, may resemble the pleasant characteristics of individual weather events that were happening before the global climate system became dysfunctional, while at the same time other parts, other weather events in other places, may have unpleasant dysfunctional characteristics that did not happen in the properly functioning system of the past.

But either way, all individual weather events are now part of the damaged global system, thus, local or individual weather events do not define or make up the whole system, because the global climate system is still damaged whether individual weather events are classified as "good" or are classified as "bad" on any given day.

Therefore, Fifth Graders know that even though there are characteristics in individual weather events which may resemble other individual historical weather events that happened long before the global climate system became dysfunctional, that resemblance does not magically transform the damaged global system back into a non-dysfunctional state.

Similarly, like a serial killer who does not murder every day, but instead resembles normally functioning people on some days when s/he does not kill, that "good day behavior" does not mean that the serial killer is no longer dysfunctional.

Discussion of local weather events should never be given greater weight than the big picture, which is the understanding of the damage that has been done and is still being done to the global climate system by green house gases that enter the atmosphere when we use fossil fuels.

Otherwise "we won't be able to see the forest for the trees", and we therefore won't be as smart as Fifth Graders.

The next post in this series is here.


  1. As this post points out, there is a false meme going around: "any single weather event cannot be associated with global warming."


    All weather events are now associated with the global climate system that has become dysfunctional, so the proper saying is "all weather is part of the global climate system that has been damaged by global warming."

  2. Correct.

    Scientists are beginning to call our time "The Anthropocene Epoch" and "The Sixth Mass Estinction".

    The global climate system that has now been damaged by civilization's pollution is dysfunctional.

    All weather events take place within and are part of global warming induced dysfunctional climate change.