Meteorological winter -- December, January, February -- is over. It's official. This past winter tied with 1934 for the warmest winter ever in Salem, Oregon.
Portland also had its warmest winter.
It's pretty damn obvious that the weather here in the northwest is getting weirder. Not only here, of course. All over.
The cause is global warming. Almost certainly. I'd leave out the "almost," but I'm scientifically minded, and science is never 100% sure about anything. Just very highly sure.
Three years ago we had a unusual spring cold spell. This year, we had an unusual winter-long warm spell. Just as would be expected if global warming is happening, as it is.
I talked about the reasons why in this post. Extreme weather is going to be more common as the jet stream becomes "wavier" and more persistent in its wavy pattern. According to climate scientists, this likely is caused by the Arctic warming, which leads to a less powerful jet stream.
Global warming is real. It is impacting Salem. It is impacting Oregon. This city, this state, indeed the entire world, need to do something about it.
Yet like I said in a recent Strange Up Salem column, "Salem fiddles while the planet burns."
We've got a Mayor and city council majority who are pressing for an unneeded billion dollar third bridge that will substantially increase Salem's carbon footprint.
We have a local newspaper, the Statesman Journal, that regularly publishes opinion pieces and letters to the editor by global warming deniers, and has editorialized in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline -- which climate experts say must be stopped to prevent the catastrophe that would result from using up Canada's oil sands.
If our City's leaders believe in global warming, they sure aren't acting like they do. So my theory is... they don't believe in it.
I know. This is Oregon. Western Oregon. Willamette Valley Oregon. Where Portland, Corvallis, and Eugene are. Not Texas or Oklahoma.
But Salem is a different city animal from the towns around us. We're way behind the times when it comes to things these cities do much better than us at.
Bike lanes. Mass transit. New urbanism. Social equity. And also, scientific literacy.
Yeah, it's embarrassing. Along with disturbing. Optimist that I am, though, I'm hoping that this year's record-breaking warm winter and low snowpack will wake up the climate change deniers in this town to the reality that faces us.
Do something about global warming, or it is going to do a lot to us.
Civilization won't be the same if temperatures caused by human greenhouse gas emissions keep on rising as they are.
The question is: do our Mayor, City Manager, city councilors, and Statesman Journal newspaper executives care enough about this town, and the entire Earth, to stop hiding their heads in science-denying sand?