Deep freeze

The record-breaking cold spell sweeping the United States underscores yet again that climate change and its impact is real. Winter in the US this year has been an extreme weather event. A polar vortex has brought icy Arctic air to the US causing temperatures to plunge to unprecedented levels. While the Midwest has always suffered harsh winters, it has been more brutal this year.

Michigan was as cold as the South Pole; clearly polar weather is not confined to Arctic/Antarctic regions. Some areas recorded temperatures lower than Mars even thanks to the wind chill. Temperatures in Montana was down to minus 52 Celsius. Southern US hasn’t been spared either. California and Florida, known for their pleasant weather year-round, are shivering in sub-zero conditions. The extreme cold conditions have been described by the US’ National Weather Services as “life threatening”; around 21 people are reported to have died of hypothermia and other cold-related conditions. 

The exceptionally icy winter in the US this year has triggered heated debate on climate change. Climate change sceptics are pointing out that the record cold weather is evidence that the globe isn’t warming. That is a simplistic argument. Climate change, after all, is measured by evaluating global trends in weather over decades, not events happening over a few days in a little region.  Extreme winter conditions in one continent cannot be held up as evidence that global warming is not happening. More importantly, climate change sceptics are ignoring the complexity of how global warming works. Scientists have found considerable evidence that global warming is causing temperatures to rise in the Arctic at a rate twice that of the rest of the Earth and that this is altering the heat balance between the North Pole and the Equator. Generally, the polar vortex traps the icy Arctic air within the polar region. The altered balance in the temperature is believed to have caused it to ‘wobble’ allowing the Arctic air to escape and sweep further south.

This year’s winter in the US comes as a chilling reminder that climate change is a fact. Describing extreme events as an outcome of ‘Nature’s Fury’ does not capture the real picture. Human activities are contributing to global warming which is precipitating such events. Unless strong global action is taken on the matter, human life as we know it is in peril.

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry