Letter: It's a good time to add climate to our weather chats
Minnesotans love to chat weather. It’s a part of our culture. Soon, chatting about climate will become a new part of our culture. We laugh when friends from other states complain about weather in the teens, 20s or even the 30s, which we know is shorts weather. We have added new vocabulary this year, like Polar Vortex, which is apparently not an energy drink.
Now, we need some new vocabulary for discussing global warming, climate change, or what is sometimes called global weirding. Weather is getting weird because the climate is getting weird. Climate is what you expect to see out your window, weather is what you actually see. Massive droughts, Superstorm Sandy, and hail so big that I need to replace my roof.
In May 2013, the level of carbon dioxide in the air we breathe hit 400 parts per million. I call it our carbon number. When my Grandpa Red was born in 1919 it was 280, and when I was born it was 330. When my son was born in 2007 it was 380. Scientists think the “safe” number is around 350. And, just like hormones in your body, a little goes a long way. Small changes in this number can have a big impact on the climate. As we keep burning coal, natural gas, and oil, the number will keep going up. And, we will keep burning fossil fuel for many years to come. But, like eating cheeseburgers everyday and seeing our cholesterol rise, so will our carbon number.
When it comes to fossil fuels, we need to go on a diet, if we want to keep our carbon number safe. In fact, if you were born after 1976, you have never experienced an average temperature year – each of the past 37 years have beat the 20th-century average. Fortunately, there are things we can do to bring our carbon number down; but will we? I know my son, Ely, will not grow up with the same climate I did. But, I hope we can try to reduce the change.