It snowed overnight where I live. This morning we’re still getting a small amount. It hasn’t been a lot, at least not for those of you that live in latitudes where this time of year there are days where you can become snowed in, and if not, it is a pain to have to get to work, or run errands. But where I live, it is unusual. So far, this winter, including this one, we’ve had a total of around 8 inches of snow. Before you start laughing, let me explain.
I’ve lived hear a long time, and although every year that I’ve lived here, we’ve had snow, just not anything measurable. So it’s not unusual for us to have snow, just the amount we’ve had so far this winter isn’t normal, at least in my experience. It’s nice to see it, and it is a pain because we’re not equipped to handle weather like this at all. Luckily, the snow melts off, mostly, by the end of the day.
What I’ve been hearing from a few friends is that these unusual snows are due to climate change. I’m often skeptical when people automatically make this claim for events that appear to me to just be weather. Nothing else about the current winter season has been in the least bit abnormal as to temperatures or precipitation. I would think that we would see more than just a few disparate snowfalls for this to be considered an effect of climate change.
Just a few years ago, this month, we had 2 of the coldest days ever on record: one day the high was 5F, the next was 8F. Later that week the temperatures were mostly back to normal for the time of year. A climate change event or just abnormal weather? I’m not a climatologist nor a meteorologist but since it was a one time event, never since repeated, I have to go with weather.
It does bother me that everytime, somewhere in the world, a strange meteorological event occurs, we see stories of climate change in the news. I don;t think we can necessarily attribute every event to climate change. Before anyone begins to believe I’m a denier, I’m not. Of course the climate is changing, it always has and climatologists have the data to show how it’s changed over millions of years. Sea levels rose, then later in time, fell because of climate change. Anyone keeping up with the science may have noticed that solar scientists have become a bit alarmed over the recent lack of sunspots, which may indicate a change in our global climate over time. There’s nothing we can do about that.
Does human activity have anything to do with climate change? Of course it does. Are we the primary cause? Some say yes, others say, not so much. But it’s not hard to come to a conclusion that a earth population approaching 7.5 billion (if we haven’t already reached it!) has some effect on global climate. Just as those that blame everything on climate change seem to have a religious fervor , those that say that humans have zero effect, to me, are the same. But we, those that are not researchers in climate or weather are caught in the middle, and it’s now become more ideological than scientific.
People say, the science is settled, but is it? In many disciplines, science rolls on, ever expanding our knowledge, affirming what is known, and sometimes, discovering what was thought to be true actually isn’t. The beauty of scientific inquiry. I trust what scientists have to say, with the caveat that tomorrow, those same people may discover something unexpected that changes the narrative.
My question is this: If humans stopped using all fossil fuels today, would that prevent climate change? Some say it’s too late, but is it? I think that if we could suddenly, overnight become totally green, worldwide, that yes, we would see a difference – that being that the change would slow, but not stop. It’s inevitable as it has been since humans began walking on this planet. We should do what we can, but we cannot entirely erase our footprints on this planet.
Back to our recent snow. I’ve spoken with people who’ve lived here a lot longer than I have, some that actually grew up here and what they tell me is that these recent winter snowfalls used to be common until around 2003-2004. What they see is that our weather is getting back to normal for winter. Of course this may just be an anomalous winter instead of changing back to what used to be normal. One seasons data is not enough to really tell us anything.
I think what we all need to do is take a step back and not allow ideology to overtake the science. There are experts on both sides of the issue and we should evaluate both sides of the question equally – with skepticism. We do this in other areas so why not apply the same in this one?