Extreme weather conditions normal in New England

Is Climate Change real or is this winter “normal”?


Lara Cadete, Staff Writer

Due to our strange weather lately, people have been wondering if it has anything to do with climate change. Has our earth been getting warmer, like many people have suggested?

Climate change is a change in weather patterns over an extended period time. This happens due to global warming — a build-up of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere, also known as the “greenhouse effect.”

Since the end of the summer of 2017 to now in 2018, we’ve been through many natural disasters and bizarre weather patterns, like category 4 hurricane Harvey to the recent blizzard that lead to school cancellations.

“It is typical to have varied weather in New England.  I would say that extreme snow conditions are expected.  The increase in precipitation over the decades is most likely an indicator of the temperature fluctuation. Being a coastal state the sea level has risen and will be expected to continue to rise slightly in the future,” said Tina Fennelly a science teacher at LHS.

According to NASA, since the industrial age the temperature in ocean waters has increased by about 30 percent. This is due to the increase of humans using carbon dioxide that is emitted to the atmosphere and absorbed by oceans, which causes the increase in heat.

Due to the heat, the polar bears are dying because all the ice in the polar regions are melting, leading their food source to move to a better environment. Ocean levels increased by eight inches in the past century, according to a NASA study.

Animals around the world are suffering because the climate that they adapted to is slowly being destroyed. Animals like reindeer, penguins, cold water fish, and frogs are in danger of being extinct.

According to US News and World Report, some of these animals, even with the slightest change in the environment, could be detrimental for their well being. For example, most frog species found in South America are listed as endangered. A large factor is a loss of habitat to pollution and disappearance of rainforests. Another major concern is that a fungus wiped out entire frog populations in the past as a result to climate change.

Scientists are not optimistic. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that about one third of the more than 6,000 known amphibian species are at risk of extinction.

Due to these predictions, many other animals won’t be able to survive or eat because of this extinction rate.

According to “Attribution of Extreme Weather Events in the Context of Climate Change,” National Academies Press, a number of record high temperatures are increasing while the cold temperatures are decreasing.

Recently in Ludlow, we experienced a blizzard that lead to our school being canceled for two days. It snowed one foot, with high winds. About a week later on January 11, 2018, humidity and warm temperatures rolled in which melted all of the snow. The reason to this sudden temperature change could only be global warming.

Fennelly said that if the carbon dioxide levels do keep rising like they are, then it will cause more precipitation to happen. That could potentially lead to the “cause” of flooding in the future.

“Between 1981 and 2015, the Northeast experienced a 17 percent increase in precipitation from the largest storms, compared with similar storms during the first half of the last century. That was substantially more than any other region in the country,” according to the Boston Globe.

This increase in overall temperature can be extremely dangerous towards everything in our everyday lives.

“The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 2.0 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere. Most of the warming occurred in the past 35 years, with 16 of the 17 warmest years on record occurring since 2001. Not only was 2016 the warmest year on record, but eight of the 12 months that make up the year — from January through September, with the exception of June — were the warmest on record for those respective months,” According to NASA.

Another concern that arises is some produce can not be grown because of this temperature change. This is a huge problem because it could lead to a food shortage.

Farming has always been dependent on weather since its inception, but a rapidly changing climate is making farming vulnerable. In some regions, warmer temperatures may increase the production of produce growing. This is the overall impact of climate change on agriculture, temperatures in some places might be way too hot to grow anything. This means reducing food supplies and raising food prices in our supermarkets. Many regions already are suffering from high rates of hunger and food insecurity, like India, South Asia, and Egypt. these countries are predicted to experience the greatest declines in food production. Elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide are also expected to lower levels of zinc, iron, and other important nutrients in food farmers grow.

This could affect everyone from Ludlow to all around the country.

 According to the Boston Globe,Raymond S. Bradley, director of Climate System Research Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst said: that with carbon dioxide levels higher that at any point in at least 3 million years, and rising, and doubt now cast over the efforts to curb emissions signed in Paris in 2015, the planet is heading into uncharted waters.

There is still hope for our planet earth. Although it may never be the same again, if we start recycling, using more natural ways of doing things, upgrading to less things that pollute like wood stoves, there could be some hope for our home.  

“I think we can slow climate change by reducing emissions into our environment.  I think there have been strong efforts, especially with the installation of wind turbines etc. to work toward this.  I don’t believe you will be able to stop change all together.  With an educated population of people I think that big impacts in the positive direction will be possible,” said Fennelly.