Growing up in Massachusetts, I remember winter producing the epic snowstorms you might encounter beyond the wall in George R.R. Martin’s “Games of Thrones.” My sisters and I would spend hours building snowmen, making snow angels and carving elaborate igloo-style dwellings. Of course, we were smaller then, and the giant piles of snow pushed up by the plow seemed to tower above our 4-foot frames.
Still, other than the Snowpocalypse of 2011, these days I’m rarely wowed by a winter storm (in Chicago or back East). And, with temperatures set to reach 50 degrees on Saturday, it hardly feels like January.
Today marks the first time since 1940 that Chicago has gone 320 consecutive days without at least an inch of snow falling, according to the Chicago Tribune. And, the National Climatic Data Center officially confirmed that 2012 was the warmest year on record for the contiguous United States. “The average temperature for 2012 was 55.3°F, 3.3°F above the 20th century average, and 1.0°F above 1998, the previous warmest year,” according to the report.
Most people probably aren’t complaining. But, the center also found that 2012 was a, “historic year for extreme weather that included drought, wildfires, hurricanes and storms.” With 11 natural disasters causing $1 billion worth of losses, last year certainly put the U.S. through the ringer.
While many people may be happy to stow their gloves and hats, I can’t help but worry about what such extreme changes in climate mean for the future. Sure, a warm winter day is a pleasant surprise. But, a warmer planet isn’t something to celebrate.