Science, Bitches | Issue 12

Science, Bitches | Issue 12

Shorts and t-shirt at 45į south?

Good grief Winter has finally arrived! With Dunedin’s temperatures falling it actually feels like winter. The freshers are undoubtedly freaking out as they’ve finally understood what ‘cold’ really means this far south. Dunedin’s Autumn, which felt more like an extended Summer was uncharacteristically mild. Just two weeks ago I cycled home from a mates at 10pm wearing shorts and a t-shirt. While the winds were north-west (bringing warm, dry air from the Otago and Canterbury Plans), I laughed the whole way home thinking ‘summer clothes in May woohoo’… and then later… ‘aw fuck, nah actually this can’t be good’. At 45° South, the climate should be well and truly arctic by now. 

As a fifth year, near ancient, post-grad battler, I can hardly remember first semester being so warm. By now you’ve probably hazarded a guess at what’s this column is about. Yah huh, global warming (sorry two weeks in a row for this column). But arriving home on that warm night left me feeling uneasy. Even my mum in balmy Auckland was feeling uncomfortable, even guilty.

While it is easy to attribute these kinds of warm weather events to global warming, we have to be skeptical. Climate science is complex and as scientists we can’t just join the dots. Global warming refers to long term variations in the earth’s climate. That means decades or centuries. If we saw these warming events year after year-climatic trends, than yes we could point the finger at global warming.

You’ve got to admit, at this point here in little old New Zealand, in the middle of nowhere global warming doesn’t seem that bad. Ignorance is bliss. If you can manage to ignore the international meetings, agreements and pacts, the environmental catastrophes every other day and even the protests here in Dunedin, global warming would be epic. But we’re not all that stupid and hopefully not that cynical. So what to do? Go vegan, go vegeterian, go pescaterian, go flexetarian, eat less meat. Just do your best. Your diet is a good place to start.

This article first appeared in Issue 12, 2016.
Posted 12:04pm Sunday 22nd May 2016 by Sam Fraser-Baxter.