As Bill McKibben writes in his op-ed below, last week's temperature readings across the northern hemisphere read two degrees Celsius above “normal” for the first time in recorded history. It's technically still winter and New England doctors are already pointing out the beginning of allergy season. While many of us could do without frigid temperatures, few would prefer an the early onset of allergies. Not only does climate change elongate allergy season, but it increases ragweed allergies, air pollution, and asthma. Health professionals have every reason to become involved in climate solutions to stem the rise of climate induced health problems. Read more about our team of leaders and find out how you can get involved today.
By Bill McKibben I March 05, 2016
Thursday, while the nation debated the relative size of Republican genitalia, something truly awful happened. Across the northern hemisphere, the temperature, if only for a few hours, apparently crossed a line: it was more than two degrees Celsius above “normal” for the first time in recorded history and likely for the first time in the course of human civilization.
That’s important because the governments of the world have set two degrees Celsius as the must-not-cross red line that, theoretically, we’re doing all we can to avoid. And it’s important because most of the hemisphere has not really had a winter. They’ve been trucking snow into Anchorage for the start of the Iditarod; Arctic sea ice is at record low levels for the date; in New England doctors are already talking about the start of “allergy season.”
This bizarre glimpse of the future is only temporary. It will be years, one hopes, before we’re past the two degrees mark on a regular basis. But the future is clearly coming much faster than science had expected. February, taken as a whole, crushed all the old monthly temperature records, which had been set in … January. January crushed all the old monthly temperature records, which had been set in … December.
In part this reflects the ongoing El Nino phenomenon — these sporadic events always push up the planet’s temperature. But since that El Nino heat is layered on top of the ever-increasing global warming, the spikes keep getting higher. This time around the overturning waters of the Pacific are releasing huge quantities of heat stored there during the last couple of decades of global warming.
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