Monday, September 25th, 2017

Our Opinion: Maine’s extreme weather linked to climate change?

Posted on January 20, 2014 in Perspectives
By USM Free Press

So let’s talk about the weather. We know, we know–not the most inspired conversation starter, but this time it’s about more than just weather. It may just be about climate change.

Last week saw 45 degrees at times, uncommonly warm, but remember last semester when it felt like the snow-pocalypse had started?

USM saw its fair share of winter weather last semester. By mid-December, a nor’easter hit, and Portland was covered in a foot of snow. The snow is never far off, and we’re the best at being prepared, right? This is Maine after all.

Actually, we’re not entirely convinced of that. With all the wintry weather, snow-removal, sanding and salting doesn’t seem quite what it used to be at USM. In some places, sidewalks and walkways were only just cleared for use for last Monday. In other spots, inches of ice coated walkways and crosswalk entrances; piles of snow barred passersby from getting into buildings or walking down side streets. Students making their way to the parking garage could be seen skidding down the icy road––the sidewalk blocked with mounds of snow. In Gorham, many of the walkways to and from campus buildings are on treacherous, steep hills that were only clear after a few days of the warm weather, but USM doesn’t seem to be alone in this. Off campus, Portland seems to have struggled with the extreme weather just as much, leaving the elderly resident to climb the snowbank in order to pay that parking meter.

Has snow-removal, sanding and salting become peripheral, or did we simply fall behind? We dealt with the Christmas Eve icestorm fairly well, trucking in hundreds of workers to help get Mainers back on the grid. So it isn’t that snow-removal has been neglected; it is that the conditions are just too outrageous to keep pace with.

It seems like it’s time to talk about the weather. Is global climate change connected to Maine’s extreme winter weather? Do the conditions that we’ve seen show that Mainers have been intimately affected by climate change on a daily basis? It may be time to start looking for the solution beyond the snowplow. What’s next? The answer is simple, even if the solution isn’t––let’s start a conversation.

  • Heffer

    This is childish speculation. Have you noticed that global warming has the word “global” in it? Climate change research measures average weather changes over the globe, over long periods of time. The Intergovernmental Panel on Global Climate Change does just that, analyzing global averages from 1850 to the present. and its 2013 report left little doubt that world-wide, human-caused global warming is occurring, that and extreme weather patterns have a strong correlation to rapid climate change.

    This article is not starting a conversation, it’s surrendering science to anecdotal nonsense.

  • Anonymous

    You say “last week we saw temperatures as high as 45”.

    You failed to mention that those temperatures are part of a weather phenomenon called the “January Thaw”, where historically the temperatures during a week in January rise above freezing, and go as high as 60 F.

    If you want to start a conversation, lay a base with facts. If you tell half truths, you might as well just also lie through your teeth. Come on Free Press, just because you’re free doesn’t mean the quality of your articles have to remind us of it. .