Don’t blame astronauts for Earth’s warmest-ever February

EDITORIAL by Stephen Whitworth

Weather used to be a safe, neutral topic for strangers. “It’s cold”, “it’s windy” and “it’s sunny” are uncontroversial statements you can make when you don’t know anything about the beliefs or background or terrifying delusions of the person you’re talking to.

Obviously that’s changing with global warming, especially after the freak winter we’ve just had (the second warmest on record, says Environment Canada).

I love plus-temperature days in February as much as anyone. But for me, it’s impossible to ignore the grim implications of this abnormal winter. A lot of the “nice weather we’re having” exchanges I’ve had over the last few months ended with me saying something not-very-cheerful about climate change — which, as pleasant as it seems during a Saskatchewan winter, should be a scary prospect whether you live on an island that’s being swallowed by rising sea levels or here in Regina.

Anyway, the looming end of weather chit-chat reminded me of my first weather conversation malfunction, probably 20 years ago.

It happened on an absurdly windy, cold day in the ’90s.

I was outside and saw an elderly woman struggling to get out of the cold. I grabbed the door in a nearby building for her, and when we got indoors I said, “some weather!”

She looked at me, shook off some loose snow and said, “I know! It’s because those damned astronauts did something to the moon when they went there.”

I don’t think she was joking.

Here in 2016, I DO know that NASA, home of moon-altering astronauts, just released temperature data showing that the average global temperature in February was 1.35 degrees above normal. That’s the kind of number that shows something is seriously out of whack on Planet Earth.

And before some smartass brings it up, it’s a lot more than El Nino. We’ve had El Nino years before.

Combine this year’s record shattering heat with the fact that the 15 warmest years on record happened in this 16-year-old century, and we’ve got proof of a terrifying problem.

The sad thing is, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear climate change-deniers suggest this year’s crazy weather is the result of secret astronaut moon experiments in the ’60s. That’s not much dumber than anything else they’ve said in the past couple of decades.

Hopefully, people will finally start to wake up and realize climate change is a concrete threat to their happiness. But I’m not sure I’m willing to hold my breath on that one.