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John Wheeler, Published April 22 2012

Weather Talk: Story about Earth’s polarity reversing completely wrong

Twice last week, I was involved in casual, on-the-street conversations about weather with people I did not know.

On both occasions, the strangers volunteered the same story about having heard from a science teacher in school that one day Earth’s magnetic polarity would reverse and the hot places on Earth would become cold while the cold places would become hot. I have no way of knowing if this is a terribly misinformed science teacher or two students who just got the lesson wrong, but the concept is impossibly incorrect.

For one thing, the north and south magnetic poles have nothing to do with hot and cold. Exposure to sunlight is why places are hot or cold.

Further, there is no possible way to tilt the planet so that both poles are simultaneously closer to the sun than the equatorial regions, meaning it would be impossible for the tropics to become cold while the poles become tropical.

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