James Pinsky: Chill out on climate change

Well, hello 2018.

Well, hello 2018.

We humans are a friendly bunch, so how about you stop giving us the cold shoulder.

The recent cold spell throughout the nation has caught everyone’s attention. It is winter, so I expect to wear a jacket from time to time…

The unusually cold 2018 winter for we Virginians has led a few well-meaning people to question the “global warming” problem many conservationists, who include some well-educated scientists, have warned us about. 

Let me be clear here: it is a mistake for all sides of the climate change and global warming debate to stake their claims on a bad, or good, winter.

In an online blog by Scientific America associated with sustainability, an entry titled “Why Global Warming Can Mean Harsher Winter Weather, helps anyone who wants to be objective toward understanding climate change. One particular paragraph read, “But while more extreme weather events of all kinds – from snowstorms to hurricanes to droughts – are likely side effects of a climate in transition, most scientists maintain that any year-to-year variation in weather cannot be linked directly to either a warming or cooling climate.”

The fact our planet’s climate is changing is not a dispute. As NASA states on its website, www.nasa.gov, “Earth’s climate is always changing. There have been times when Earth’s climate has been warmer than it is now. There have been times when it has been cooler. These times can last thousands or millions of years.”

In fact, even global warming, scientifically, is simply a matter of fact. Again, I refer to the highly educated people at NASA, via their website www.climate.nasa.gov.  “Global warming” refers to the long-term warming of the planet. Global temperature shows a well-documented rise since the early 20th century and most notably since the late 1970s. Worldwide, since 1880 the average surface temperature has gone up by about 0.8 °C (1.4 °F), relative to the mid-20th-century baseline (of 1951-1980).”

My point is this – don’t let our colder than usual weather now deter you from becoming educated about humankind’s impact to our planet, and what actions we must take to ensure we minimize, if not someday eliminate, our unnecessary contributions to altering our planet’s climate. Climate change is ongoing, and global warming is an absolute fact. While the debate may seem to be raging as to what is causing both, make no mistake that we can and should do everything we can to minimize our impact on how the Earth works. Otherwise, one day it won’t, and I assure you, this winter’s mild discomfort will seem like paradise.

James Pinsky is the education and information coordinator for the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District.  Contact him at 540.465.2424, ext. 104, or james.pinsky@lfswcd.org.