Mark Twain once said, “if you don’t like the weather now, just wait a few minutes.” According to Rutgers University professor Anthony Broccoli, that saying will hold true, even as the climate changes.


Broccoli: “Climate change isn’t going to make weather go away. The variations in weather that we experience from day to day, from week to week, from month to month are still going to happen. So we will have cold spells. We will have dry spells, wet spells.”

Many people expect global warming to cause a gradual, steady increase in temperatures in a straight-line, but broccoli says it’s more like hiking a trail to the top of a mountain.

Broccoli: “At the end of the trip you’re higher than you were where you started, but along the way there are many ups and downs. You may go downhill temporarily even though the trail ultimately is climbing.”

So while the end result will be a warmer world, major events like el Niños and la Niñas will still affect the climate from year to year, while weather will still vary from day to day.

Broccoli: “Climate change is causing the baseline to rise. But there are still fluctuations that are going to make some years unusually warm and some years unusually cold.”

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo: Copyright protected.

More Resources
The Earth’s climate: a non-linear dynamical system
Global Surface Temperature: Going Down the Up Escalator, Part 1
Climate Change; “Nonlinear” but ultimately Global Warming Will Continue to Grow

Bud Ward was editor of Yale Climate Connections from 2007-2022. He started his environmental journalism career in 1974. He later served as assistant director of the U.S. Congress's National Commission...