“Good Old Global Warming” Needs to Unfreeze Niagara Falls
Although Canadian winters are already known for their longevity and extremity, this winter has exceeded all of our expectations. After New Year’s Eve, Toronto was hit by temperatures which felt like -40 degrees Celsius, the coldest in over 40 years. The Weather Network’s guru Chris Scott warned city dwellers to “buckle up because it looks like a stormy winter.” He was not kidding.
The cold front did not simply affect only Toronto. It looked like all Maritime Provinces and northeastern U.S. states experienced abnormal weather conditions as well. From Halifax, Nova Scotia to Charlottesville, Virginia, temperatures caused major problems: power outages, automotive malfunctions and even a group of citizens in Newfoundland forced to shovel out a moose buried in the snow. To add to all of the chaos, Niagara Falls froze over! Although to many children, the Falls became a winter wonderland, parents and drivers had a hard time getting around the world heritage site.
In response to the cold, President Donald Trump tweeted that the U.S. could use some “good old global warming” that the nation was “going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against.” This comment parallels Trump’s sentiments well in his prior tweets, in which he stated comments such as “global warming is a total, and very expensive, hoax invented by the Chinese!”
Global warming, or more accurately, climate change, is a very complex and multi-faceted issue that requires us to examine and analytically weigh different factors such as historical continuity, scientific evidence and political interests before we can jump to any rash conclusions and base foreign and domestic policies on ideologies.
Opponents of climate change argue that the two-week deep freeze did not have anything to do with the warming of the planet or human activities. For instance, Climate Central, a Princeton University flagship union, have stated that shifting air patterns over the Arctic are more responsible than anything else for the abnormal winter temperatures this year: “We conclude that this was all but an exceptional two-week cold wave in the area in the current climate.... Cold waves still occur somewhere in North America almost every winter.”
Conversely, studies supporting climate change theory have suggested that humans are partly responsible for the two weeks of hell we all experienced. For example, the WIRES Climate Change national journal at Rutgers University concluded that “very recent research does suggest that persistent winter cold spells … are related to rapid Arctic warming, which is, in turn, caused mainly by human-caused climate change.” The authors of the journal warned that “persistence” was key as they expect record-breaking temperatures to occur less often in the coming decades, yet with greater longevity.
In addition, “abnormally” warm ocean temperatures from the Pacific Ocean caused a jet stream over eastern Canada and the U.S.—which is bound to happen again—causing cold air to “bulge” northward. The result was a deep freeze.
Debate on the causes of the cold front are neverending, yet I believe that human beings had a role to play in what we experienced and will likely experience again. Human pollution and release of greenhouse gases are increasing at an unprecedented rate. Developing nations are most responsible for such increases in pollution because of the transnational factories that operate there, pumping out toxins at an accelerated speed.
The net effect of our activities is that climate will occur differently in various parts of the world. In response to Donald Trump, I would say that climate change does not uniformly warm the planet, with warm temperatures being witnessed all over the globe. Some parts of our world will experience excruciatingly hot summers while others, such as North America did this year, will see abnormally cold winters.
This is not good news. What is most important now is that we as a species educate ourselves on the matter and regardless of our political and scientific views come to agree that less pollution is better for our climate and humanity.