Reading the signs on climate change


If you haven’t yet heard, Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow this year, so there will be an early spring! Okay, I can’t even feign surprise seeing as I wore shorts and a t-shirt to lay out in the sun this past weekend and it was January.  I can remember Groundhog’s Day last year quite vividly. You see, I’m from Chicago, and by Feb. 2, 2015, we’d already had about four days of negative-30-degree weather, and winter just didn’t seem to want to give up. Last year, I awaited the silly tradition of Groundhog’s Day with perhaps a tad too much apprehension, because I was willing to believe in anything for the frigid temperatures to end. Suffice to say, this year was a little different.

Not wearing a coat is January is something I haven’t done since my pre/early teen years when I was way too cool to be caught dead in a parka, but this year, we’ve been experiencing a season I can only compare to Phineas and Ferb’s notion of “S’winter.” While I knew that St. Louis weather was notoriously about 10-degrees warmer than Chicago on average, no where in my mind did I picture picnicking in Forest Park on the 31st of January. Furthermore, I thought the temperature flux was bad in Chicago, but I was proven wrong a few weeks ago when I spent one-day shivering to class in single digit temperatures and the next week contemplating whether I even had to wear a light jacket. My wardrobe, skin and allergies are in total disarray trying to keep up with the rampant mood swings of the weather. So, obviously it has been a mild—one could even argue warm—winter here and all around the Midwest, but does this say about the dreaded, tabooed climate change?

My dad is the epitome of the green initiative—if you don’t believe me, consult the laundry detergent he gave me; it’s reusable and made of mineral pellets that recharge in the sun—so keep in mind that most things I say on the topic of climate change lean rather biasedly either by being based of the things he has talked about or taught me, or because I find some of the things he says and does extremely dorky.

With this polar attitude in mind I am going to try to shed some light on some seemingly-obvious bad arguments concerning climate change. If someone comes up to you today pointing to the warm temperatures, and scoffs at your complete ignorance  to evidence of climate change, please feel free to scoff right on back. One, or even half a month’s worth of uncommonly warm days in no way can act as evidence that the world is getting warmer, or all the polar bears are dying, or we’re all going to die of chemical emissions. While these things—in their non-exaggerated forms—may be true, it is absolutely ridiculous to try and base the climate of a  4-billion year-old planet on a few warm days. On the flip side, and I have to use this example because it is just so ridiculous, I hope everyone scoffed at the incident of Senator Jim Inhofe bringing a snowball to the Senate floor as proof that climate change is a “hoax”. I hope I don’t have to explain the flaws in this argument, so I’m just going to put my faith your intelligence.

Here are some real, honest facts about climate change; do with them what you will. The average global temperatures have been steadily increasing for the past 30 years. Arctic ice cycles have displayed decreasing coverage over the past 20 years. The energy content of the oceans has experienced a sharp increase over the past 10 years. These factors have caused sea levels to rise, threatening coastal communities around the globe—the U.S. Navy is planning on moving several bases because of this. The cause of these changes is carbon dioxide, which, upon testing the levels in the air, has been proven to be prehistoric (aka the majority of this carbon increase comes from fossil fuels). If you don’t believe me, look it up. And if you still don’t believe me, please at least come to me with a better argument than a fresh snowball, unless you are looking to get smacked by your own argument.

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