No Politics, Just Science: A New App Explains Climate Change

Posted by Nona Willis Aronowitz

"Climate change": At this point, does that sound more like a political buzzword than a real scientific event? Even though most scientists agree that climate change is well underway, the public's understanding of it lags behind—whether due to confusion, religion, or willful ignorance. Our country's acceptance of the phenomenon has actually retreated in the past few years.

A new, free app for iPhones and iPads called Just Science jolts us back to reality by translating the science of climate change into layperson's terms. The app takes two centuries of data from the comprehensive Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) study, then converts it into a color-coded moving map that shows how today's monthly temperatures compare to historical averages since 1800. The result, according to developer Nick Orenstein, is a gradual, everyday reminder of what's happening to the planet.

"When a user curls up with his iPad on the couch or pulls out her iPhone at a coffee shop, their attention is focused and their mind is open for information input," Orenstein told Skeptical Science. "Do it right, and the result is a 'eureka' moment of lasting understanding that no politician, pundit, or preacher could refute."

Orenstein has succeeded in bringing a far-reaching global event down to earth. Just Science is couched in our individual experience, not vague rhetoric. It's also a highly addictive digital tool, one that taps into an element of discovery reminiscent of fourth grade science fairs. Most of all, the app fulfills our essential need to see for ourselves, rather than taking politicians and advocates at their word.

Images via YouTube.