Wild Winter, Cold Spring: World Finally Responding to Climate Change

Emily Quan, Staff Writer

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How great was this past winter? Fifty degrees in February to cut through all the cold. What could be better?

Snow days, of course! Days off of school for a little bit of ice on the roads. It’s truly a winter wonderland!
Snow days, spring days; it seems we got it all this winter. One day we were bundled up in our homes on a snow day and three days later we were out in t-shirts and jeans. This isn’t like anything I’ve experienced living in Maryland for seventeen years.

If you didn’t believe in climate change before, then there’s no way to avoid it now. There’s no other way to explain this turbulent weather. Human-caused climate change is the culprit.

According to my manager at Ace Hardware, “everything works on cycles.” These sporadic temperatures are all part of Mother Nature’s dynastic plan. My manager isn’t completely wrong, though. Climate does go through cycles throughout the year, but when it’s 60° in December in Maryland, then the cycle is a little messed up.

For those of us grounded in reality, it’s time to face the facts. Climate change is a worsening issue, and it’s more than funky Maryland weather.

This past summer, the U.S. and surrounding territories saw one of the worst hurricane seasons on record. Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico is the worst recorded hurricane in Puerto Rico’s history, and even now, five months after the disaster, FEMA reports that 400,000 are still left without power. Two weeks prior, Hurricane Irma decimated the Florida Keys; two weeks before that, Hurricane Harvey slammed Texas as the first category four hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. since Hurricane Charley in 2004.

This deadly hurricane season is a direct result of rising ocean temperatures. Warmer waters fuel the intensity of storms, and according to Scientific American, “The dynamic between storms and warming oceans occurs in part because of the role hurricanes play in our climate system: they rebalance Earth’s heat. The storms remove heat from tropical oceans in the form of moisture and pump the heat up into the atmosphere, where heat is redistributed and radiated out into space.” (Sneed, 2017). Greenhouse gas emissions raise ocean temperatures, and hurricanes distribute that heat to the rest of the world. A storm season as vicious as that of 2017, therefore, made significant contributions to global temperature fluctuations.

Expecting the federal government to address this issue may be more than experts should expect, as it seems hard-wired in republican sentiment that human-caused climate change is naught more than liberal scaremongering. This exists at both the local and national levels of government. In Idaho, the state legislature has removed all mention of human-caused climate change from its science education guidelines, leading to heavy pushback from educators and parents who understand the detriment such an action can cause. On a more global front, the republican climate change denial epidemic is further strengthened by President Trump’s decision to exit the Paris Agreement, an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to “keep temperature rise below 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100” (Worland, Time, 2018). Trump’s announcement on June 1, 2017 of his decision to pull the US out of the Agreement is fueled by the coal industry. Coal mining is the economic foundation of the working class in parts of the US, and without a vibrant coal industry, areas that rely on coal for jobs see their infrastructure and way of life fall apart.

However, coal fuel produces one of the greenhouse gases that contributes to climate change, which in turn creates the deleterious weather patterns around the world. Reducing the use of coal, as per the Paris Agreement, will reduce coal emissions and hopefully slow the increase of global temperatures.
The republican party is concerned with the jobs that will be lost when oil and coal industries bite the dust. This concern ignores the fact that jobs in providing sustainable energy, such as solar energy, wind energy, and hydropower, will replace the coal jobs lost. Sustainable energy is an ever expanding market, one that will produce job growth as well as preserve our planet’s future.

As the effects of human-caused climate change become increasingly apparent, maybe the course of action required to reverse the damage will become the world’s top priority.

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Wild Winter, Cold Spring: World Finally Responding to Climate Change