A worrisome winter in the Lou

Holden Foreman, web editor

“The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive,” Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States, stated in a tweet sent Nov. 6, 2012.

Trump’s supporters reflect his opinion, as a 2016 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found 78 percent of Trump supporters did not believe global warming results mostly because of human activity. Contrarily, 30 percent of Hillary Clinton supporters shared that sentiment.

Regardless, the Pew Research Center found 93 percent of American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) members with a Ph.D. in Earth sciences (and 87 percent overall) agree global warming results mostly from human behavior. Another Pew survey, conducted in 2016, discovered 48 percent of American citizens see human activity as the primary cause of climate change, constituting a 45 percent gap between the views of Earth Science Ph.D.’s and the U.S. population. A summary of the Pew Research Center’s studies can be found here.

Despite discrepancies in public opinion, data on temperature change remains indisputable. According to the World Meteorological Organization, 2016 marked the hottest year in history (since records began in 1880). Three straight record-setting years—2014, 2015 and now 2016—only add to scientists’ concerns about the 21st century containing 16 of the 17 hottest years on record.

Some students jokingly praise climate change for St. Louis’s recently warm winters. Still, students might want to pay more attention to the noticeable temperature changes in their immediate community.”

While two Januarys in St. Louis cannot confirm nor deny the existence of climate change, the numbers offer a local case study on above-average temperatures. And, according to data from AccuWeather, the average high this January was 45.23 degrees Fahrenheit, up 2.81 degrees from the average high of 42.42 degrees in January 2016. The average high in January since 1962, when AccuWeather started tracking data? It sits at 40.58 degrees.

If the rate of January’s temperature increase between 2016 and 2017 continued, the average high in January would reach 70.52 degrees in ten years. But, according to climate scientists, rising sea levels and exposure to solar radiation would jeopardize humanity long before such temperatures could arrive.

Some students jokingly praise climate change for St. Louis’s recently warm winters. Still, students might want to pay more attention to the noticeable temperature changes in their immediate community. If marginally rising temperatures prove synecdochal for large-scale climate change, scientists say the results will bring far more devastation than comfort.

The Union of Concerned Scientists, an independent organization dedicated to minimizing global warming, warns, “Dangerous heat waves are increasing in severity and frequency. Sea level rise is accelerating. Extreme storms are on the rise in some areas. More severe droughts are occurring in others. Collectively, these effects pose a threat to the entire planet — including you, your community, and your family.”