The Brutal Winter That Wasn’t

It was one of the coldest, harshest winters in history…or was it?

This past weekend, the city of Boston officially set the record for its snowiest winter ever. That city has received a staggering 108.6 inches of snow this winter and it could be seeing even more snow tomorrow, just in time for the start of spring. But Boston wasn’t the only city that faced snowstorm after snowstorm this winter.

Up and down the East Coast, winter hit with a vengeance. It brought frigid temperatures and blinding snowstorms to millions and millions of Americans. In fact, if you ask anyone living on the East Coast about this winter, they’d probably tell you it was one of the coldest winters in recent memory.

And, people like Senator Jim Inhofe, America’s climate change-denier-in-chief, would tell you that this winter was proof that climate change and global warming are a big joke. But here’s the thing: The East Coast was the only part of the United States this winter that was cold.

That’s right. According to new data from NOAA – the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – the East Coast was the only part of the U.S. that saw cooler than average temperatures this winter. In fact, this was the 19th warmest winter for the contiguous United States ever, with much of the country seeing warmer than average temperatures.

Out west, California, Nevada, Washington, Utah and Arizona all saw record warm temperatures, while continuing to deal with a devastating drought. Meanwhile, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, and New Mexico all saw temperatures way above normal.

But the United States isn’t alone in having an unusually unseasonable winter. Globally, this has been the warmest winter in history. From the United Kingdom to Japan, nearly all of the Northern Hemisphere has seen above normal temperatures this winter.

It’s the same story for the world’s oceans too. While parts of the Atlantic Ocean did see record cold temperatures, the majority of that ocean saw above normal and record temperatures this winter. The Pacific Ocean also saw record warm temperatures and the same goes for the Indian Ocean too.

So, don’t let Jim Inhofe throwing a snowball on the Senate floor fool you. Climate change and global warming are alive and well, despite the fact that people in Boston were jumping out of second-story windows into massive snowpiles. And, if we continue to choose inaction over action, things are only going to get worse.

In winters to come, Boston might end up looking like a scene out of The Day After Tomorrow, while California could see Sahara-like conditions. To avoid those kinds of doomsday scenarios, we need to kick our toxic addiction to fossil fuels, and keep carbon in the ground.

A recent study published in the journal Nature argues that most of the remaining fossil fuel reserves on our planet will need to be left in the ground if we want to have any chance at preventing catastrophic climate change. The scientists behind that study argue that most Canadian tar sands oil, all Arctic oil and gas, and most shale gas has to stay buried underground if we want to avoid the 2 degrees Celsius global warming benchmark.

From record high temperatures out west to constant blizzards in Boston, climate change reared its ugly head this winter, and unless we act now, things are only going to get worse. It’s time to fight back against the greatest threat the human species has ever faced.

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