Letter to the Editor - Valley News (Lebanon, N.H.) - February 25, 2012 (Links added)
To the Editor:
A recent lengthy article ("Warm Winter Weather Has Wildlife, People Both Befuddled," Feb. 26) discussed the remarkably warm winter we are having, but failed to mention the obvious question of whether it is related to global warming. In fact, the general tone was reassuring. A conservation biologist was quoted as saying the unusual warmth could have "some short-term effects ... but it's not a huge concern in the long term." Unfortunately, this is misleading, and here's why:
A study of some 1,400 plant and animal species, published in the journal Science in August 2011, found that on average, they are moving toward the poles (north in the northern hemisphere, south in the southern) at an average of 16-17 kilometers (10-11 miles) per decade, and that this pattern has persisted for at least the last 40 years. Plants and animals are also migrating to higher elevations where that is possible, again apparently in response to a warming climate. So, if you're befuddled or puzzled about spotting unusual wildlife or not seeing species you are used to seeing, that may well be why.
The article was a very good one as far as it went, but that wasn't far enough. Please consider contacting one or two climate scientists the next time you are covering the topic of unusual weather. Climate is the big picture, but inevitably it is going to affect our weather--as one well-known climate scientist, NASA's James Hansen, puts it, we are "loading the climate dice" in the direction of warmer and more extreme weather.
To those who are already concerned about this issue, I urge your support for Citizens' Climate Lobby and H.R. 3242, the Save Our Climate Act, which would tax carbon and return the proceeds to all Americans in the form of an annual dividend.