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This winter is developing into one of the coldest winters on record in the USA. Most have noticed the arctic turn for the worst, turning social media into forecasts and forums for frigid frustration. This winter onslaught has been dubbed “the Polar Vortex,” the scientific buzzword for the streaming arctic air.
Simply put, the discrepancy between the temperatures of North America and the Arctic are shrinking thanks to a jet stream pushing the Arctic to America’s front door. This phenomenon has had the greatest effect on the eastern United States, but the snowdrifts across the western side of the Rockies echo the frigid effects of our more colonial neighbors. The storm has rocketed to the peaks of news, causing two things to occur. Firstly, jokes involving the Mortal Kombat fighter Sub-Zero are at an all-time high. Secondly, some are wondering if this storm disproves the concept of global warming. This latter question deserves some serious reflection.
In order to effectively answer what is an honest (hopefully) question, terms must be defined. Global warming is technically not the accurate term to describe the climactic change we are observing. Climate change, however, will suffice. The notion that climate change can be summarized by the world getting warmer is erroneous at best, hence the need for clear definitions. This confusion has tripped up its share of people, most noticeably Donald Trump. On New Year’s Day, Trump tweeted, “This very expensive global warming bullshit has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps, and our GW scientists are stuck in ice.” Trump was featured on Fox News to share his thoughts on global warming, wedding ignorance with arrogance once again.
The fact of the matter is that climate change affects all climates; it is not simply a matter of turning up global heat. While North America is growing icicles, St. Petersburg is experiencing odd highs for this winter. Australia concluded that this year was its hottest year on record, a full 2.1 degrees above average.
While climate change is natural, the exaggerated and sporadic climate change being recorded is not. It is entirely possible that the earth is adjusting on its own time frame, but pollution and human factors are certainly adding a new variable that has not been observed in the past. While we yet to understand how much human factors will shape the developing climate, the inversion of the great basin is completely manmade, as are the spikes in asthma attacks and dirty fog.
Regardless of one’s position on climate change, it is apparent that our planet is suffering from our contributions, not benefiting from them. An interesting question posed by our editorial staff, and implicitly by the AMC series “The Walking Dead,” is whether or not the earth needs humans. If it does, are we fulfilling our role within the relationship? If it doesn’t, are humans parasitic? While the answers to these questions may never be found, change is inevitable, including climate change. With this fact clearly understood, it behooves society to understand how it shapes these changes.
The Polar Vortex will continue issuing in a frigid winter, offering chilling reflection of days past and nights to come. Regardless of hellish heat or caustic cold, let the earth regain its own, however it may choose, and let us not stand in the way.