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Dean of Students

Roller coaster weather in need of more research

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Another year, another incredible amount of extreme weather in Illinois; it’s a pattern that seems to have no end in sight. Whether it is record amounts of snowfall in the winter or sweltering heats in the summer, it seems that Illinois is constantly breaking new weather records. This year has started no differently, with dangerous colds and large snow falls wreaking all sorts of havoc. In fact, according to the Peoria Journal Star, Normal’s 46.5 inches of snow this year has broken a record that has been held since 1961-1962, and who knows how much more is to come.

However, Illinois isn’t alone. All across the country, states have been dealing with incredible weather. Tornadoes are occurring all over the southeast and California has been dealing with one of the worst droughts in its state’s history. With such a large amount of extreme weather, the debate has been renewed as to what exactly is the cause.

In response to this, President Obama has decided to propose to congress a $1 billion dollar “climate resilience fund.” The fund would be specifically for climate research as well as the development of technologies that could protect communities from severe weather. Despite being a country struggling with extraordinary debt, this is an expense that should be approved for social, political and economical reasons, even if it is unlikely to be passed.

Generally speaking, a majority of climate experts are in consensus that climate change is occurring and that it is human induced. According to a 2011 article published by researchers from George Mason University “The Structure of Scientific Opinion on Climate Change,” 84 percent of the various scientists surveyed agreed that “human-induced greenhouse warming” is happening. Despite this, there are still varying opinions as to how much temperatures will rise and what the future repercussions will be.

So just how could climate change impact Illinois? LASNews, an alumni magazine published by the University of Illinois, hypothesized in the article “Is Illinois Turning into Texas?” that if current climate trends continue, Illinois could have temperatures that rival southern states by the end of the century.

“If significant cuts in carbon dioxide emissions are not made, Chicago could bake. By the end of this century, the city could average 70 days exceeding 90° F every summer; and of those days, 30 could top the 100-degree mark,” Doug Peterson wrote.

While this is only one report and there are likely at least a few scientists that would be skeptical, it is the lack of consensus that makes the need for more climate research so important. What is certain is that agriculture across the country is suffering now more than ever (especially in California) and communities are being wrecked by severe weather. Something clearly needs to be done.

Politically, such a fund would be tough to pass due to how divided parties are on climate change. This is really a shame, as spending money on climate research isn’t a matter of who believes in global warming. It’s about finding answers and dealing with very real problems that are affecting the world. While Obama’s budget plan wouldn’t solve these problems over night, it would be a step in the right direction as to finding more information on climate change as well as ways communities can better deal with severe weather.

3 Responses

  1. Sarah

    This year we had record snowfall and record low temperatures all across the country. “Is Illinois turning into Texas?” Um, no. Global warminng doesn’t exsist. Temperature changes do, however when in the history of the world has temperature not changed over the years? 1 billion dallors is FAR to much to spend on climate research that could be better used else where. Honestly I think there’s not much we can drastically besides cutting down on emissions when it comes to temperature change. Nature just runs it’s course, all we can do is be prepared.

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  2. David Shaw

    Personally, I find it interesting that Obama cut military spending, a practical use of funds given the “political climate” (pun intended) of the world, because we cannot afford the military’s bill, but miraculously drums up 1 billion dollars to study the climate. Even if we understood why this winter’s weather was so bad, what purpose does that serve? We don’t have the technology to control or change weather patterns. The money is wasted; and we diverted funds from an agency that could protect us from more manageable threats.

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