Punxsutawney Phil may be wiping the sweat off his brow when he comes out of his den Feb. 2.
The weather has been chaotic and this year has been one of many records: 334 consecutive months of above average temperatures with July of 2012, becoming the hottest month on record and 9 million acres fell to wildfires.
Then, there was record arctic melt, severe drought and the largest hurricane in recorded history. We’re feeling the heat in Punxsutawney, and we’ve all noticed some serious changes.
It’s more common to have spells of 60-degree weather throughout the winter, and the early springs are not without a killing freeze like last year’s. There was a time when ticks were virtually nonexistent in this part of Pennsylvania. Now because of their movement northward, the tick and the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium it carries are the bane of those that enjoy the outdoors.
Phil might someday be dueling with his prairie dog cousins for prime location -experts tell us that climate change is expected to alter the distribution of many species. Science says animals are struggling to adapt and are shifting their ranges to colder locales. “Climate change is the biggest threat wildlife will face this century,” a study reports, while other studies predict dire extinctions if temperature climb continues.
According to a marmot expert, groundhogs in Maine were emerging 17 days sooner in 2010 than in 1998. If Phil could talk, he might be pleading with us to get it together NOW – before there is no more future to predict. Our carbon dioxide generating, methane emitting, climate changing, fossil fuel-based economy is the problem, but it’s something we can change. Over-consumption and the greed of fossil fuel corporations are what dictate our weather, not our local forecaster Phil.