comes to Maine

Our New Year cold spell has elicited many comments in the media. But I hope not many took seriously the presidential comment that “we could do with a bit of global warming now.”

The truth can be determined from the University of Maine’s very graphic “Climate Reanalyzer” website. It showed similar temperatures on Jan. 1 at the North Pole and in Maine. In fact most of the North American continent was under the influence of a huge polar vortex, ringed by a strong jet stream. Many cold records were broken.

But though Maine was approximately 27 degrees colder than the 1979-2000 average for the day, the North Pole was about 19 degrees warmer than its average. What’s more, the Arctic as a whole was about 6 degrees warmer, the northern hemisphere about 1.5 degrees warmer and the world as a whole about 1 degree warmer for the day.

Our current cold is all part of what might appropriately be called “global weirding,” which this year brought other strange weather events, including extra strong hurricanes and typhoons of September and October, our freak Halloween windstorm, and wildfires continuing to burn through November and December in the West.

Is this increasing climatic shift what we want to bequeath to our children and grandchildren? Of course not. Science has shown clearly for decades that the current global warming is caused primarily by burning fossil fuels. We are all involved, and so we should all be paying more for coal, oil and natural gas to discourage their use. A price on carbon fuels would level the playing field for the development of renewable energy. Our descendants do not deserve to inherit ever-increasing costs of dealing with global weirding due to our addiction to fossil fuels.

Peter Garrett, Ph.D.

Mid Maine group leader, Citizens’ Climate Lobby

Winslow