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All is well: humans are getting used to extreme weather conditions with worrying speed


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If you get used to strange, hot, or unusually cold temperatures, you may not be alone.

After more than two billion tweets about the weather, a team of researchers found that people seemed to get used to an abnormal weather pretty quickly. They found that users were less likely to report abnormally high or low temperatures if the same conditions had been observed in recent years. The idea that people make the "normal" climate is often rather shortsighted, because it seems to be based only on the most recent trends.

The results, published on February 25 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest that failure to respect historical weather conditions could skew the public's view of climate change.

What about the weather?

Discussing the time that he is doing is a basic conversation, helping us navigate the discussions for decades. And as temperatures continue to deviate from their annual averages, we should have a lot more to talk about. But as time goes on and extreme weather conditions become more prevalent, are we seeing these changes in our colleagues or are we just getting used to them?

"We run the risk of quickly normalizing conditions we do not want to standardize," said Frances C. Moore, lead author of the article and assistant professor of environmental science and policy at the University. from California to Davis, in a new one. Release. "We live in historically extreme conditions, but they might not seem unusual if we tend to forget what happened more than five years ago."

To see how people react to exceptionally hot or cold temperatures, Moore turned to social media. She and a group of researchers looked for Twitter publications on the weather, using keywords like cold, hot, cold and icy. They blocked 2.18 billion tweets on temperature published between March 2014 and November 2016.

They compared the tweets with the temperature data of user locations and, to their surprise, found that people were more likely to tweet about the weather than it was in very hot or cold weather. But they also discovered that people were less likely to tweet about the strange weather if extremes had hit their area in recent years. On average, publications on abnormal temperatures decrease if the user has experienced them over the last two to eight years. This suggests that after only a few years, people forget that the weather they see is abnormal.

And in the grand scheme of things, historical records show that recent weather conditions have been, in fact, abnormal. When they analyze the climatic trends of a given place, analysts plunge into recordings dating back hundreds of years. They find that these extreme highs and lows, which we quickly become accustomed to, go well beyond the normal historical temperature variations recorded for centuries.

Public perception

Getting accustomed to unusual weather may not seem like a big deal, but researchers predict serious consequences. They note that if we adjust to climate trends and begin to consider extreme weather as usual, we could begin to minimize the effects of climate change as a whole. And if the public has a biased perception of climate change, scientists and policymakers may find it difficult to enact legislation to temper it, compounding the long-term effects. Thus, instead of comparing their climate to that of recent years, they invite the public to look at the weather conditions of decades and centuries before when it comes to climate change.

But again, it's possible that people just found something other than the weather on Twitter.

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