Dangers of Climate Change
Issue   |   Tue, 01/23/2018 - 22:37

Early in January it snowed for the first time in 28 years in Tallahassee, Fla. It was part of a massive cold front that went on to sweep the entire nation this winter and indicative of an even broader trend of climate change and extreme weather. Here in Amherst, temperatures reached 15 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, according to AccuWeather. This drop in temperature may be shocking to many, especially following an unseasonably warm fall and an even hotter summer prior to that, but it is in fact in line with the way climate is changing.

According to Andrew Freedman, the Senior Editor for Science and Special Projects at Mashable, several digital computer models detailing weather patterns across the Northern Hemisphere predicted that they would become extremely amplified. This means that high altitude winds created “blocking” ridges that are virtually immovable, setting the perfect stage for a display of extreme weather.

Besides reminding us of the variability of weather, this cold front also reminds us that climate change can affect our lives in ways that we might not expect. President Trump tweeted amid the bone-chilling weeks of late December and early January that “Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming.” Not only does this display a nonchalant, mocking attitude towards the very serious and imminent issue of climate change, but it also betrays an ignorance of the distinction between climate and weather. Climate — that is, weather over time — is what is changing in a consistent way towards warmer temperatures. According to NASA’s Jan. 18 press release, 2017 was the second hottest year on record globally. The trend towards warmer weather isn’t always controversial or that interesting, but that doesn’t mean the fight against climate change shouldn’t be a high priority for us.

Given the warm fall and a lack of snow because of it, this cold front did not set as many record temperatures as it might have otherwise. As Andrew Freedman explains, snow cover across the country was unusually low at the time of these below-average temperatures. So, despite it being very cold, Trump actually has global warming to thank for it not being colder.
It is important to keep thinking, talking and most importantly doing something about climate change. With extreme weather, disastrous hurricanes and increasingly hotter summers, not doing anything might be, ironically, the last thing we do.