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It was heartening to see the many thanks  expressed to our city workers for their efforts during the recent storms and extremely cold weather.

Sitting comfortably in my warm and well lit home, I thought of others deserving of thanks to include our utility workers. This retrospection gave way to irony given my primary heating fuel is natural gas. Was I using more gas to heat my home because of climate change and thereby adding to the problem because I was burning a fossil fuel to stay warm?

Adding more irony, our recent extreme cold may be due to the warming oceans. Did the warmer ocean water, which is melting much of the arctic sea ice, cause further warming of the arctic air which then interfered with normal jet stream patterns, causing them to split the normally high altitude polar vortex into two segments, one of which came down into North America?

Of course, study of these phenomena will continue for years so it is too early to conclude absolutely that all of the life interruptions and business cancellations this last week are 100 percent directly attributable to anthropogenic climate change. But since the missing arctic ice will not magically reappear, I do wonder if we are in for extreme cold more often. Back to my beginning thoughts: Thanks to all of the people out there who make my life easier and especially to all of you in the future when the effects of climate change are even worse.

Ned Shepherd


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