• Too soon to say
    July 19,2013

    Too soon to say

    The worst blizzard in recorded New England history happened in March 1888, the worst heat wave in July 1911 and the worst hurricane in September 1938. Nowadays, we might attribute them to climate change due to global warming (Editorial: “Weird weather,” July 10).

    New England weather is exceptionally variable, because most North American weather affects us before moving out over the North Atlantic. Climate, however, is long-term consistency and change.

    Climate changes happen, possibly due to the sun’s varying brightness, Earth’s varying orbit, drifting continents, rising or eroding mountain ranges, dust from major volcanic eruptions circling the globe, varying ocean currents and other influences that are unknown or not scientifically understood.

    The worst climate change here was this latest ice age from 1 million or more to about 6,000 years ago, when ice thousands of feet thick intermittently covered vast areas including New England and created Long Island, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket and Cape Cod at its southerly extent (see, for example: The Great Ice Age, U.S. Geological Survey, 2012).

    Though this ice age began to end when the latest global warming began about 20,000 years ago, it will have ended when the Arctic, Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets have melted. In geologic time, it likely will soon repeat, though possibly delayed by human carbon dioxide emissions.

    Attributing current weather extremes to climate change risks confusing current events with history, when we find out what really was happening.

    Howard Fairman


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