Winter: So far, so good (and not so good)

The winter season thus far has been fairly easy to take for those of us who have lived in New England for all of our lives.

The warmer-than-normal temperatures, highlighted by the record-breaking highs in the 70s two weekends ago, have been welcome, especially for our home heating bills, which are much less than usual. And as we write this at the beginning of this week, the forecast through the end of the month is for continued warmer-than-normal temperatures.

The lack of snow also has been a nice respite from the usual onslaught of winter, both for our backs (for those of us who shovel) and for municipal budgets, whose snow removal costs have been under control through the first two-thirds of what is considered to be the meteorological winter months of December, January, and February. 

Of course, we all know that February often is associated with huge blizzards and March can roar in like a lion — so we’d be the last to suggest that we should count our mild winters before the first crocuses push through the ground. Ol’ Man Winter no doubt will have a few tricks up his sleeve.

However, what is undeniable is that the record-setting days of warmth that we have experienced this winter, as well as in the past few winters, are part of the trend toward warmer temperatures around the world.

When we were growing up (in the 1960s), the term “January thaw” referred to a few days when temperatures might have climbed to the high 30s after a period of a few weeks with temps in the single digits and teens. 

But the January thaws of our childhood were nothing compared to the spring-like days we have experienced in the middle of these past few winters.

Climate change no longer is just a hypothetical. The recently-concluded decade of 2010-19 was the hottest that ever has been recorded on earth. The resultant changes to our climate are fitting the models predicted by scientists since the 1950s, who correctly surmised back then and ever since that the infusion into the atmosphere of man-made greenhouse gases would have a significant impact on our climate.

Our warming planet will have negative effects that only now are becoming evident, as scientific theory meets real-world conditions — the burning of Australia within the past few weeks being a case in point.

Moreover, it is becoming increasingly clear that the previous scientific models of a warming planet understated the rapidity with which dramatic changes to our environment are taking place. We no longer can take comfort in thinking that climate change is something that is decades away.

Climate change is happening now — and it is becoming more evident with each passing day that the planet is being sacrificed to the greed of corporate interests who control our government officials, to the detriment of every living creature, including ourselves.

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