The month of December is here, but would we know what time of year it is without the morning radio updates telling us how many days there are until the holidays? Maybe not. Lately, the weather has been more fitting for a chilly spring morning or a mild fall day. For anyone with winter dread, which seems to be a lot of New England folks still recovering from last year’s streak of blizzards , this oddly warm weather is a blessing. At least one month less of shoveling and home-bound weekends!
Yet, being young and not yet fed up with Massachusetts winters, I cannot help but wish for snow. It seems this time of year’s magic always comes more to life with a beautiful snowfall just in time for the holidays. Unfortunately for snow-lovers like me, the remainder of the month is forecast to be pretty rainy and around 50 degrees on average, according to weather.com.
My fruitless wishing for snow gets me thinking about the reason why the past few Decembers have been so green. Should I wish for snow for a less selfish reason, like the survival of the polar bears who are suffering from the detrimental effects of global warming?
I decided to do some research, and this is what I found out: according to the Northeast Climate Impacts Assessment (NECIA) team, the northeastern United States has gradually warmed up every decade at a rate of roughly .5 degrees Fahrenheit since 1970. Snowfall coverage has decreased, while spring has come more quickly and summer has presented increasing numbers of very hot days (www.neaq.org). As such, according to ample amounts of evidence, it is fair to say that global warming is playing an active role in our green New England Decembers.
These shocking results certainly call for action toward minimizing our footprint. Angela Fritz from The Washington Post makes it clear that the most direct cause for this warm December is tied to El Niño, the irregularly occurring climatic changes that impact the equatorial Pacific area. As a result, pressure is expected to build over North America, meaning that the continent’s regional temperatures will be above average for December. However, as Fritz points out to those wishing for a warm winter and shorts, El Niño does not necessarily mean that the entire winter will be warm.
Luckily, these warm-wishers have some good news for December at least. And for snow-lovers like me, well, we’ll just have to wait until January comes around. In the meantime, we can work on doing all we can to save our planet from the terrible effects of global warming, where lack of a pretty winter day is the least harmful consequence.