The Year of El Niño

I’ve been dealing with fearful, panicky friends, worried that this year’s weather is a confirmation of the global warming ‘trend’. Now, I happen to also know a few top climate scientists, and they’re not at all panicky about this year in particular. What we’re seeing is an El Niño year, an unusually hot year, and this will likely persist into the winter, according to the ENSO report:

There is a greater than 90% chance that El Niño will continue through the
Northern Hemisphere winter.

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Weather is a complex system with multiple ‘attractors’, and El Niño is the ‘warm’ critical point, while the La Niña is the ‘cool’ critical point. A simple model that explains the phenomenon is the Lorenz system.

However, as with Covid-19, people like to see linear trends when in reality we’ve got exponential processes: as a result, a pathogen is ‘under control’ until a bit later hospitals are falling apart. There’s expectation of exponential economic growth when in reality we have a sigmoidal saturation: as a result, there’s boom and bust cycles. In this case, we have a chaotic process that people currently see as linear, and as a result, global warming paranoia will likely get additional followers over the coming months.