Two years ago this month, in a well-publicized and much lampooned political stunt, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) brought a snowball to the Senate floor to highlight the “unseasonable” cold and cast doubt on climate change.
The Republican lawmaker would have been hard-pressed to find a snowball anywhere in his home state this past weekend.
Oklahoma just endured a spell of exceptionally hot weather. Mangum, Oklahoma saw temperatures close to 100º F, setting a state record. The average February high in Mangum is 56º F.
It is extremely unusual to see such sweltering temperatures in the dead of winter, but climate change is loading the dice for record-breaking heat. Here, the human fingerprint is clear. Carbon pollution traps heat, warming the planet. This, in turn, shifts the entire distribution of temperatures.
Many people may welcome a temperate day in February, but warm weather in normally cold months disrupts ecosystems. Trees may bloom after an unseasonably balmy spell — and then suffer frost damage when cold weather returns. Flowers may blossom and shed their petals before bees arrive to pollinate them. And the minor destabilizations have a ripple effect, impacting flora, fauna, and the industries built around them.