As we turn the corner from winter to spring, let’s pause and appreciate the warm temperatures and pleasant skies that have marked the last three months.
It was quite warm this winter, and we didn’t get much snow. That’s a problem for trees and bushes that need winter water and for kids who like to sled on Suicide Hill. It’s also a pie in the face to weather forecasters who predicted a much whiter winter season.
As always, pride goeth before the fall, and the other seasons.
For the rest of us, a temperate winter has been a blessing. The snow blowers and shovels stayed safely stored. There were fewer car wrecks and broken arms. And we’ve gotten a break as taxpayers — with less snow to plow, public work crews have had to busy themselves with other projects. Ultimately, that saves money.
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Scientists say we can’t take any one season or weather event as definitive proof that climate change is real. On the other hand, almost no serious scientists believe climate change is a hoax. The evidence, collected over many years, is clear.
So let’s accept the mild winter for what it really is: another link in a long chain that shows a general warming pattern and a changing climate.
Some areas are warming and others cooling, scientists now believe. But all of us must prepare for more extreme weather events: stronger storms, bigger floods, more serious droughts. California has been bone dry for half a decade; this year, rain and snow are causing massive flooding in the state.
Other regions report similar extremes. In Washington, D.C., the cherry trees used to bloom in April. They’re budding now.
Local and state planners know this. While national politicians engage in endless squabbling, climate change is affecting public and private decisions closer to home.
Trucks that plow snow are now less important than floodwater pumping stations. Mosquito eradication may become more significant. Streets and sidewalks may crack less, but buckle more.
Utilities must prepare for hotter and longer summers. More swimming pools? Fewer asphalt-covered parking lots? Those decisions, and more, are on the table.
Those choices aren’t limited to coastal cities, either. Sure, Miami is already dealing with sea water creeping over downtown streets. But Midwest cities are making a host of 25-year decisions under the assumption that climate change isn’t a theory. It’s a reality.
Apparently, no one has told the Trump administration, which is gutting the Environmental Protection Agency, approving additional petroleum pipelines and considering withdrawal from the Paris climate change agreement. Those steps will make the next 50 years even more difficult.
But even maintaining the status quo won’t make America temperate again. The era of climate extremes is here, and we all must plan accordingly.