Has the sun shined in days? Will we get more rain this week? Or snow? Or ice so that we have to melt down our car doors to get in? How was it minus 30 a couple weeks ago (OK, that might be an exaggeration) and above 60 in the next few days?
The weather has been unpredictable for the past year, but since January, it’s really been in flux. As I leave my apartment every morning, I don’t know what to wear or bring. Should I bring my umbrella? Do I need my heavy coat or light one? Is a hat necessary today? Should I wear my boots for the mud or for freezing winds?
Though weather is based off of many different factors, it’s no secret that the weather has been a little off its rocker for the past few years, and we all know why by now: climate change.
It started as a buzz word a few years ago, but now it’s a reality.
In 2012, the winter was unseasonably warm, and the summer was one of the hottest it has ever been. All of these warmer than usual temperatures resulted in an astonishing record. According to The New York Times, 2012 was the hottest year ever. Not one of the hottest, not the hottest in the past decade — the hottest ever.
And it wasn’t just by a percentage of a degree, which is how usual temperature averages are compared. It was one full degree hotter than any other year’s average. The average temperature was 55.3 degrees.
If that isn’t shocking enough, there were 34,008 record highs set throughout the country in 2012, and only 6,664 record lows. The ratio was balanced as recently as 1970, but has been out of whack for the past decade as the globe has warmed, but never as much as last year.
So now we’re in 2013. It hasn’t been the warmest winter, but it’s been just as dynamic. Some of that we can chalk up to Illinois weather. The land of Lincoln has always been known to blend all seasons into one day. It’s minus 20 wind chill in the morning, and by mid afternoon, we need to get our sandals and shorts.
All jokes aside, this is serious. Climate change is upon us, and it is only going to get worse in the foreseeable future. President Obama has admitted it is an issue in his inauguration speech and since, but admitting it is an issue and making significant and lasting changes to improve the world’s air are two different issues.
Obviously we can all do our part to contribute to change: using less electricity, recycling, carpooling places, etc. But I’m afraid that it’s going to take something truly horrific — not just Hurricane Sandy or Hurricane Katrina washing up on our shores, a tsunami in a distant country or a particularly dry summer — to change our ways in a meaningful way.
It’s going to take something huge, something global, to finally convince the world that hey, we need to start saving our planet — and quick. When that day comes, I’m equally afraid that our earth will be too far gone to repair. There’s only so much we can do before the greenhouse gases takes its toll on our ozone layer.
Let’s hope for all our lives (and the lives of our children and grandchildren) that we start really changing our ways before that happens.
In the meantime, the weather is going to continue to be as unpredictable as ever. My advice would be to bring a rain jacket, a winter jacket, boots, flip flops, jeans, shorts, an umbrella, mittens and tank top when you walk out of your door in the morning. There’s no telling what you might have to wear for the day.
August is a senior publishing major and night editor. Questions or comments regarding her column can be sent to: