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Lane: No denying climate change

BY JOE LANE | FEBRUARY 24, 2014 5:00 AM

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I was born and raised in the frigid state of Minnesota. I’ve spent countless winters in subzero temperatures and been to baseball games in May during which snow covered the unoccupied seats. I’ve experienced the countless days of double-digit inches of snow or negative-20-degree wind chills that don’t result in even a two-hour delay at school. But this winter was something for which even I couldn’t prepare.

This winter, the majority of which I have spent in Iowa, is undoubtedly one of the harshest I can remember. How cold is it exactly? According to BuzzFeed, it was so cold this winter that the Great Lakes nearly froze over for the first time in 20 years. As of Feb. 21, the Great Lakes had 90 percent ice coverage — the most since 1994, when the coverage reached 94 percent.

Despite these subzero temperatures and countrywide snowstorms, climate change remains a pressing issue.

It seems, however, that the extreme (and frequent) subzero temperatures of this winter have made global-warming skeptics even more confident in their opinion on the matter — as if the mere presence of winter is enough to disprove climate change.

According to CNN, Secretary of State John Kerry, in a recent speech reflecting on Obama’s State of Union address, referred to climate change as “the greatest challenge of our generation.” This statement came in the face of increasing opposition to the theory of climate change as a result of the unusually chilly winter.

Kerry went on to twist the knife by comparing climate-change deniers to the “Flat Earth Society.”

According to CBS News, J. Marshall Shepherd, the former head of the American Meteorological Society, said that people claiming that this year’s surge of snowstorms is enough to disprove global warming is “like saying that since it’s nighttime, that the Sun doesn’t exist anymore.”

Snarky and slightly condescending though it may be, I agree with Shepherd. Shepherd also explained that the phenomenon of global warming, or climate change as it is more accurately designated, does not mean that winter will stop occurring — the two situations are not mutually exclusive.

Perhaps it is true that working toward a solution to climate change could prove costly and futile. However, as Kerry explained, the cost down the road of doing nothing now will be far greater than a plan put into action right away.

I’m guilty, as is virtually every other person I know, of not recycling, showering too long, and leaving the lights on when I leave a room. The changes that must be made, however, do not come primarily at the individual level.

Yes, every individual is responsible for fixing the climate-change issue, but it is clear that widespread legislation must be put into effect in order to truly reverse nearly a century of damage done by human civilization.

Throughout this winter I’m sure I laughed more than once in the face of global warming as I saw the high of negative 12 on my weather app. However, when I walked into class, coatless and sweating, on Tuesday I had both a smile on my face, knowing that summer was just around the corner, and fear in my mind as I realized winter was coming to an end — in the middle of February.


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