Eco Green Corner: Spring sprung too soon for climate

What’s wrong with a little nice weather — it couldn’t hurt, right? Wrong. While it’s nice to break out the flip-flops and sunbathe in March, it’s not necessarily a good thing in this area. Climate stats show that March 2012 was the warmest on record across the United States.

For the past several decades spring weather has been slowly arriving earlier and earlier every year. According to records, spring in New Jersey has arrived up to 4-5 days earlier in recent years based on the 1981-2010 average. This data is recorded by the date of the “first leaf.” Temperatures are rising every month, which could cause a major problem.

The warming effect doesn’t only affect us, but business as well. Clothing production is disturbed by the weather. Production sales for summer clothes have boosted dramatically, but also leave a huge stock of warmer winter clothing left in inventory, which in turn affects the income they take in.

Food is also dramatically affected by weather change. Peter Purinton, a maple syrup producer in Vermont, was forced to stop production four weeks earlier than usual. This caused him to cut production in half compared to a typical year. This warm winter could most likely “affect the suitable habitat for maples, thus reducing the amount of trees and syrup in the coming century,” according to the climate central website. Justin Gillis and Joanna M. Foster from The New York Times stated, “farmers had to plant their crops six weeks earlier.”

Within the world of weather and climate change, global warming is said to be a natural process. According to palaeoclimatologist William F. Ruddiman, with every peak of the Earth’s natural heating comes a natural cooling effect, which is caused by the Earth’s orbital cycle. This process is natural. The problem is that human activity is most likely speeding up this process. With the amount of CO2 that humans produce daily, this period of warming is coming more quickly than ever before. Ice sheets should have begun their growing process very long time ago, but did not because our actions warm the planet earlier and earlier. Therefore, many scientists believe the Earth will be dominated by global warming instead of a cooling effect.

Other scientists, however, predict a glacial ice age within the next hundred years. Ruddiman suggests that the Earth will continue to warm for at least the next 200 years until fossil fuels become scarce and then finally begin to cool as the ocean absorbs the CO2 we’ve produced. It’s not easy to say whether dodging a glacial period has been beneficial or detrimental to us, but one cannot deny the unnatural pattern that we have begun. In the long run, an early spring, may just be too soon.

Katelyn White and Jillian Spratt

Lawrenceville Eco-Reps

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