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Hemispheric Blizzards and Global Warming Not Mutually Exclusive

Posted Jan 27 2010 7:00am

My being a global warming subject matter expert is not based merely on my extensive work on the topic, my attendance at global symposia or my status as a certified global warming presenter of the National Wildlife Federation. It also is based on the fact that I reside in Florida, a region on the front lines of climate change.

I first moved to Florida in 1987 to attend the University of Miami. While living there, I experienced my first autumn chill as a Floridian. In late November of 1987, temperatures dropped to near 40° F. Needless to say, I was shocked by the weather. Two years later, when I had relocated to Central Florida and lived in Winter Park, I experienced my first icy December, with Christmas temperatures hovering low enough to freeze a glass of tap water.

In both cases, Florida’s agriculture industry suffered billions of dollars of losses. Simply put, the subtropical climate of the Sunshine State is not supposed to see thermometers drop below 50° F at night during the winter. When they do, Floridians suffer.

January 2010 has seen record low temperatures not just in Florida but in patches across North America. Moreover, other nations in the Northern Hemisphere have seen record accumulations of snow, which have paralyzed commerce and transportation for millions. Can it be a coincidence that one of the coldest winter seasons on record came to pass in the age of global warming? Does this sequence of frigid days and icy nights throughout the Northern Hemisphere disprove the anthropogenic origin of global warming?

The simple answer is no. In fact, the opposite is true. It is for this reason that Nobel Prize Winner Al Gore prefers the term climate change over global warming. Short-term effects of climate change can appear to contradict the long-term trend and cause confusion. Let there be none. Global warming is real. Humanity’s abuse of its home is the primary cause and abnormally cold winters are just another symptom.

My assertion still begs one to inquire as to the cause of the hemispheric blizzard of January 2010, though. What truly is happening? The simple response is that our continued and accelerating damage to the atmosphere and the systems it uses to maintain breathable air and tolerable temperatures causes those planetary natural systems to become erratic and overcompensate from time to time. That is precisely the situation today. In March of last year, I wrote a post which pointed to new research on exactly how widespread the damage is.

In summary, while it is true that we are quite literally cooking ourselves with the billions of tons of carbon which we spew into the atmosphere every year, there is no guarantee that some of us won’t freeze to death before others suffer fatal heat exhaustion and dehydration this summer. Get used to bizarre weather because the hemispheric blizzard of January 2010 is just the beginning!

Fomenting the Triple Bottom Line

Corbett Kroehler

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