Climate change trends are right in our backyard

Josette Corazza, Opinions Writer

You may consider the recent rise in temperatures an early sign of spring—an unexpected opportunity to enjoy a sunny study session on the Colonnade—or simply assume this is how seasons normally change in Lexington. However, this is not the case.

This winter, Rockbridge County has experienced unusual highs and lows that are part of a grave trend in global warming.

According to U.S. Climate Data, the average high temperature in Lexington in December is 49 degrees and the average low 25. In 2017, however, the average high was 46 degrees, and the average low was 26. The highest recorded temperature was 64 degrees, while the lowest was 11.

In January, the average high temperature in Lexington stands at 41 degrees and the average low at 18.6. In 2018, the average high was 46 degrees and the average low 22. The highest recorded temperature was 67 degrees, though the lowest was minus 2.

In analyzing these numbers, it is clear that in the most recent December and January, the average lows were above the normal figures. The highest recorded temperatures were approximately 20 degrees higher than the average in both months.

According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, weather researchers calculated that the planet’s overall warming trend rendered this February’s warm spell three times more likely to occur now than a century ago.

In the midst of this warm spell, temperatures in Richmond broke daily records across the region. The afternoon high hit 80 degrees one day, only the ninth time thermometers have

reached 80 degrees during February since official records began in 1897. Ranked by daily average temperature, that day was Richmond’s second-warmest February day of all time.

According to Scientific American, 2017 was also the third hottest year on record in the United States. Every year since 1997 has been warmer than average throughout the country. In 2017, every state had a warmer-than-average year, and Virginia had its fourth hottest year on record.

However, I can’t claim to not enjoy the uncharacteristically warm February days on campus. It is a superficially pleasant change from the month in which I, a Lexington native, am usually used to seeing the most snow.

But do not rejoice in this atypical winter weather. These recent record-breaking temperatures are indicative of how things will progress if global warming is not addressed soon. Faced with a president who disputes scientific evidence, all Americans bear the responsibility of working to reduce their environmental footprints and helping reverse this devastating trend.

Here on campus, everyone in the community should be active in his or her efforts to reduce global climate change. Be sure to recycle, turn off lights and other electronics to conserve electricity, use Blue Bikes whenever possible, pursue further knowledge about global warming and the ways to combat it, encourage friends to adopt these practices and contact local representatives to request that they make policy changes.

While the unusually warm February weather may feel enjoyable to us now, we may soon be pining for an escape from the extreme year-round heat.