Weather Narratives

On Sunday January 25th Seattle reached 63 degrees. The sun was warm it seemed as though everyone in the city had emerged from hibernation parks, patios, and streets were a buzz. While some rain would eventually return and the rest of the winter days wouldn’t all be in 60’s Seattle seemed to stay dryer than our normally soggy winter.  Now in March it feels as though old man winter decided to skip Seattle to focus all his energy on the Northeast.  While we were enjoying January sun Boston was being continuously pummeled by severe snow storms crippling the T, trapping people in their homes, and making a nightmare for the City of Boston to figure out what to do with the record amount of snow.  While the pictures of winter I just painted hold stark differences, they do share a similarity; they are both weather extremes due to climate change. Yet in terms of narrative we treat them very differently because sunshine is harmless and snow storms are deadly, the black and white view point I believe is part of the reason why not everyone is serious about carbon emission reduction even though it is an issue that impacts everyone.

As a nation we tend to be reactionary, meaning it takes multiple states of emergencies such as flooding, droughts, and devastating tornados for climate change to be recognized as a real thing. It seems to take an opportunity for sensationalized news to even begin to move toward a large scale change in our environmental behaviors. While climate change now has nationwide traction it will take more than natural disaster coverage to get at everyday behaviors and a common understanding of our environmental impact. The “Carbon Efficient City’s” call for a standardized metric for measuring carbon emissions is the push needed to bring clarity that would force policy makers to create effective regulation.

While real metrics is the larger goal we must attain I believe there is a smaller nudge that could increase awareness of how our climate is in fact changing and it begins with our local news meteorologist. Our daily weather report should not only point out dangerous weather events as the only bad indicators and then deliver a forecast of 60 and sunny in January as a blessing all Seattleites should appreciate. While no one is in fatal danger sitting on a patio it is still an indicator we should all take into consideration when fighting against a carbon tax or rationalizing our dependency on cars. A change in our meteorological messaging could increase an understanding of our current climate situation beyond emergency reactions.

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