Abnormal weather necessitates lifestyle changes


Graphic by Gigi Cepeda

Julia Patterson, columnist

In the car with the windows down, sun shining and music blaring, I looked through the Snapchat stories on my phone. Everyone I knew seemed to be doing the same thing: exclaiming “summer!” as their hair whirled around in their tiny phone screens. I took in the sun’s rays and the warm air, and looked down at my bare legs, then out the window and back to the date on my phone. Remembering, it was indeed, only February.

This past month, we were graced with beautiful, high-60 degree weather. For those with winter blues or just looking to escape the monotony of our long winters, it was a Godsend. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t the highlight of my month or the boost I’d been needing. But as I drove around Glenview, pretending it truly was summer, my friend turned to me and asked, “Is this because of global warming?”

It is easy to see the evidence of global warming now, with 60 degree weather in February, but cold winters in years past indicate that climate change has been at work for decades. For years, we’ve known about our impact on the environment, and we’ve been paying attention to these kind of conditions; yet, we still do nothing about it.

Here in the North Shore, we don’t see a lot of smog or experience intense droughts. The implications of whether we recycle one thing or turn another off don’t stare us right in the face. But if having the warmest February in all recorded history doesn’t intimidate you, you’ve got some reconsidering to do.

Words like ‘global warming’, ‘climate change’ and ‘environmental impact’ are tossed around so often most people don’t give them a second thought. We hear these words in everyday conversations and in the media we surround ourselves with.

The reality of our Earth’s rising temperatures is challenged by politicians looking to reallocate government money. But the truth is that, according to NASA (who I assume most people deem credible), the Earth is experiencing changes in temperatures at alarming rates. The increase in atmospheric temperature directly correlates with humans’ emission of carbon dioxide, and if carbon dioxide continues to be emitted, we can expect detriments to our agricultural systems, drinking water quality and ecosystems.

But maybe it won’t be clear to you that change needs to be made until you’re sitting comfortable in the 90 degree Lake Michigan being swarmed by insects, wondering if your family bought enough bottled water to last the week.

You have the opportunity during your time on Earth to give your great-great-great-grandchildren the same kind of climate that has already grown so central to your childhood and lifestyle. If you haven’t already realized, our culture is obsessed with weather: it dictates what you talk about, our fashion industry, our physical and mental health, our jobs and what we do daily. So if you enjoyed the warm weather in February, that’s great! If you hate “Chi-berian” winters that’s okay too.

Having an awareness for the natural world should translate to you recycling and turning things off. It should incentivise you to try meatless Mondays or swap out your whole milk for soy milk (it’s not bad if you get vanilla). Enjoying beautiful weather should make you want to take care of our Earth out of appreciation, not out of fear, just as you would take care of a relationship.

So enjoy the Earth and treat it right. At the very least, maybe watch Cowspiracy a few times. I guarantee that if everybody knew what could/will happen to our environment without humans’ mindfulness, a lot more people would enjoy tofu.