A bigger perspective on global warming

By Justin Adams

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]I hate to alarm you, but did you know that it’s actually still winter? Yes, despite the fact that it has felt like April for the last few weeks, it is in fact only the beginning of February. It almost seems like winter never even arrived this year, with only one or two snow storms of any real consequence. Such a season gives talking points to both sides of the global warming debate. Supporters can say, “See, the climate is obviously getting warmer,” and deniers can say, “So what? This is great! Who doesn’t want highs in the upper 50s in February? Someone go burn some coal!” The problem however, is that the debate around global warming cannot be focused on an individual climate, whether it’s Salt Lake City or New York City.

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Just as an unusually mild season in Utah can appear to confirm global warming, an unusually harsh winter in another part of the world could equally appear to disprove the phenomenon. For example, you might remember the polar vortex that slammed the East Coast with frigid temperatures last winter. At the time, certain news outlets, like Fox News, leapt to the conclusion that if it’s ever colder than usual in any area of the world, then global warming must be a hoax. Once again just last week during the much-hyped Blizzard of 2015, a Fox News anchor asked the question, “How can global warming be real? Look how much it’s snowing outside!” What these models who impersonate journalists for a living don’t understand is that global warming doesn’t refer to climate change in New York City, but throughout the whole world. That’s why it’s called global warming.

Recent studies actually suggest the effects of global climate change include all sorts of extreme weather conditions. A recent article in Nature Communications suggests warming waters in the Atlantic are causing more ice melting in the North which creates a destabilization of normal atmospheric jet streams, funneling cold air vortexes down the East Coast while other areas enjoy record-breaking mild winters.

It may seem nice right now to be one of those areas enjoying the warmth, unless of course you live here for the ski and snowboard resorts. But it’s important to remember what the consequences of these temperatures will be down the road. The next summer may be marginally hotter, but that’s not nearly as much of a problem as drought. California, for example, is in the midst of a drought spanning several years and this is likely to continue, considering they have just recorded their driest January ever. From dangerous wildfires to decreases in agricultural production and increased food costs, we may have to pay the price for these comfortable temperatures very soon.

It’s important that we as a country and a global community continue a conversation on global climate change and what we can do about it. But that conversation needs to focus on more than the effects on one area and the most immediate consequences.

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