Is It Hot in Here?
While surfing National Geographic's website (yes, currently NG is an obsession of mine) I found this alarming headline, "2006 Was Warmest Year Yet Recorded for U.S." Now, I know we've all been commenting on the unseasonably warm December that has hit not only the Northeast, but the Midwest apparently - while places like Denver, uhhmm, have been suffering foot after foot of snow.
So what gives? Is it global warming? Is it El Nino? (Can you make the tilda over the "n" on Blogger? Or from my keyboard? I can't find it. My high school Spanish teachers would be disappointed in me.)
Apparently, according to preliminary data from the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) in Asheville, North Carolina, the annual average temperature in the U.S. was 55 degrees Fahrenheit in 2006 which is the warmest year since 1895 when such data started being recorded. The average temperature was also 2.2 degrees F higher than the 20th century average.
While scientists agree that El Nino certainly contributed to the warmer temperatures, especially those experienced in the month of December where no state in the union experienced temperatures below their averages and five recorded their warmest Decembers ever, they also warn that 2006 is part of a "disturbing long-term trend of increasing temperatures."
"The past nine years have all been among the 25 warmest years on record for the contiguous U.S., a streak which is unprecedented in the historical record," the NCDC report says.
Scientists believe that this long-term increase can be attributed to the emission of greenhouse gases - global warming, people. It's not a "theory." In fact, with every passing month it becomes more and more concrete. And if the Brits at the U.K. Met Office's Hadley Centre for Climate Change are correct then 2007 will be even warmer (globally) and the warmest year yet on record as the long-term increases continue and El Nino keeps the waters off the northwest coast of South America nice and toasty.
I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm not really liking these crazy weather patterns. I mean, I don't ski or snowboard or snowshoe or generally go out into the snow unless dragged by my children, BUT it just doesn't feel right around here! A Christmas without snow happens all the time, but being able to play football and soccer in a green backyard without even having to wear a jacket during the first weekend in January - it just isn't right!!
Am I right?
And the implications for the spring are disastrous as well. First of all, without all the snow melt, lakes and streams and water tables are going to be low - really low - and that means a lack of water all around. There will probably be all kinds of water bans during the dog days of summer which are predicted to be VERY hot indeed in 2007.
So you tell me . . . Should we continue our fossil fuel burning ways while we continue to emit unprecedented amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and cut down thousands of acres of trees in the Amazon that would otherwise be soaking up some of these nasty greenhouse gases and releasing it back into the atmosphere as oxygen . . . or should we do something about it? I mean, really. While we can't change the path of El Nino, we certainly can have an impact on its effects by trying to prevent the annual increases in temperature due to global warming.
What have we got to lose if we try?
Well, everything if we don't.