Tim Chitwood: Good news, Earth still is getting hotter

January 25, 2014 

Good news: Though you're freezing your butt off, the Earth is getting warmer.

That's good news for a couple of reasons: It gives you a hot summer to look forward to while shivering so hard your snot is splattering people next to you. Imagine how much more comfortable you'll feel when it's 97 degrees, you're sweating like a lathered race horse, and plastic's melting in your car if it's parked in the sun.

Another reason to welcome climate change is sea-level rise: If you've seen maps illustrating the most dire prognostications, then you've seen seas as high as the Late Cretaceous, 65-70 million years ago, when the Fall Line upon which Columbus sits was the coastline.

So just think: If all the ice melts and the sea reaches here, we'll have ocean-front property!

Maybe you and I won't live to see that. And maybe no one else will, either, the way things are going. But it's still a promising prospect, especially with whitewater rafting.

One day residents may be able to raft right into the ocean, where they may be eaten by mutant sharks.

Lately a lot of people have asked, "If the Earth is warming, why are we so @#$%ing cold?” And the answer is, “It’s winter.”

It’s winter here in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway. Below the equator, Australia just had its hottest year on record.

Here in Columbus this month, we’ve had about 15 days with lows in the teens and 20s, so far.

Still the Earth overall is warming, according to researchers with NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. They just released a report showing the year 2013 tied with 2009 and 2006 as the seventh warmest year since records started in 1880.

The warmest years on record have all been recorded since 2000, with 2005 and 2010 as the hottest years ever, so far. Earth’s average temperature has risen 1.1 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880.

Scientists say greenhouse gasses that trap heat in the atmosphere are sparking this hot flash, primarily carbon dioxide.

In 1880, the atmosphere’s carbon dioxide content was 285 parts per million. Last year it was 400 parts per million.

So this warming trend is expected to continue, no matter how cold it gets here in winter.

“It has been 38 years since … a year of cooler than average temperatures,” the researchers say.

So if you’re freezing your tail off now, don’t worry: You’ll be sweating it off soon.

Tim Chitwood, tchitwood@ledger-enquirer.com, 706-571-8508.

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