Editorial: Help turn down the global heatDoes 2012’s warm weather pattern have you feeling uneasy? It should, according to some top environmental scientists.
Does 2012’s warm weather pattern have you feeling uneasy? It should, according to some top environmental scientists.
Temperatures from coast to coast ran 6 degrees higher than average in the first three months, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The average temperature in March alone was 8.6 degrees above the norm.
Now consider that last year’s was the second warmest summer on record. Plus, scientists recorded the United States’ hottest 12-month stretch ever from April 2011 to March 2012. Those national records date to 1895.
NASA climate scientist James Hansen has documented that heat extremes aren’t just increasing but increasing in frequency. What used to be a 1-in-400 hot temperature record is now a 1-in-10 occurrence, Hansen said. That means we’re 40 times more likely to see a new high temperature on a given day than we were last century.
The magnitude of unusual weather in North America alarms some meteorologists who fear global warming is accelerating. They point out that extremes have become more frequent with the rise in greenhouse gases. The gases come from the burning of costly fossil fuels such as coal and oil.
Global-warming naysayers point to the weather pattern of La Nina as the cause of this year’s hot start. They note that the winter heat was predominantly a North America phenomenon; Europe and Asia were cool.
Regardless of whether you think global warming is a threat, let alone real, the combination of rising temperatures and rising fuel prices should prompt you to reduce your carbon footprint — if not to save the world, to save some money.
Buy local: If the food is from around here, producers and distributors have used less fuel to bring it to market.
Shop local: Don’t drive out of town when you can purchase goods and services here.
Drink tap water: Bottled water is expensive. It also comes in plastic bottles, made from petroleum products, and most plastic bottles aren’t recycled. Use a refillable container instead.
Drive smart: Slow down and use less fuel. Complete your errands in one trip whenever possible.
Ditch the car: Choose eco-friendly modes of transportation such as your feet or your bicycle when you can. Or carpool when you can.
And reduce, reuse, recycle.
The more steps you take, the more you’ll use less energy. Perhaps then you can rest a little easier as we head into what looks to be a warm spring and hotter summer.