Good Ole’ December Warmth (…wait, WHAT?!)

3 Dec

DSCN0698It is December 3rd. It is currently 63 degrees outside. I walk outside from my workplace, and I feel virtually no temperature difference. Anything odd about this picture? Forecast for the next ten days are high temperatures all above freezing. Snow seems to be elusive yet this winter, and it appears that it will hold off for a while. This honestly puts a pit in my stomach.

I think that I am frequently outnumbered in my love for winter. I understand that winter is a more difficult season to love. But it really gets me when people say that they are hoping for a snowless, warm winter. That I have no patience for, and my gut reaction is to say, “Well, if you don’t like Wisconsin winters, move south!”

That’s my initial, frustrated response. Truly, though, I empathize with people who don’t like snow and ice and cold. It’s not fun to be cold, and snow and ice cause many complications, mostly in terms of transportation to and from work. Snow and ice can really disrupt travel plans, not to mention can be treacherous for cars, bikes, and pedestrians. It’s the inconvenience and potential danger of snow and ice that causes a rejoice for the coming of spring.

Yet, I don’t understand the hope that we have a warm, snowless winter. In the context of today’s changing climate, only the well known phrase “be careful what you wish for” could be quite apropos in this situation.  Whether or not we hope for it, it looks like warmer winters are probably what we will be getting in the future.

To me it’s heartbreaking. Sure, 40 degrees feels nicer on the skin than does 15 degrees, but it is about so much more than our comfort in the three coldest months of the year. If our winters our warming, then that won’t be the only thing that changes. As I go out and do my beloved birdwatching, I wonder how migration patterns, feeding patterns, and diseases will change within the bird populations. Can I even expect to see “normal” bird behavior from here on out? But of course, this goes way beyond the birds. What about the droughts, floods, and storms we are seeing? What will happen to our agriculture? Will we be able to feed ourselves reliably moving into the future? Will we be able to protect ourselves from natural disasters and pay for all of the damages they cause?

Warm winters are just one symptom of the larger issue at hand. I am particularly saddened by the warm winters because its strips part of winter’s magic from the season. While you all rejoice for the warm weather, I might head north.

This article gets at the core of my concerns and frustrations around the climate change conversation right now: A Year of Extreme Weather– and Little Climate Change Talk

Perhaps we are a self-fulfilling prophecy in regard for our hope for warm winters. We are at the helm, after all: Emissions of Carbon Dioxide Hit Record in 2011 Researchers Say


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