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Oklahoma’s sweltering February – near 100°F in dead of winter

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Nexus Media

Source: Pexels

Source: Pexels

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.

Oklahoma on February 11th, 2017. Source: Mesonet

Oklahoma on February 11th, 2017. Source: Mesonet

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.

Cold days become more rare, while warm days become routine. The hottest days — the ones that break records — are almost invariably linked to human influence. In this new climate system, extreme heat is far more likely than extreme cold. Over the last year, the United States has seen more than four times as many record high temperatures as record lows. The heat in Oklahoma is just the latest example.

Source: Climate Signals

Source: Climate Signals

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. These minor destabilizations have a ripple effect, impacting flora, fauna and the industries built around them.

In Oklahoma, the spike in temperature is particularly ironic, given the state’s political climate. Inhofe is Washington’s most vocal climate denier, having published a book alleging that climate change is a hoax while serving as the ranking Republican member of the Senate Environment Committee.

Inhofe will soon have an ally inside the EPA — Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, President Trump’s pick to head the agency. Inhofe has describedPruitt, a longtime fossil fuel insider, as a “leader and a partner on environmental issues for many years.” Pruitt is expected to bring several former Inhofe staffers with him to his new office.

As Oklahoma’s attorney general, Pruitt has sued the EPA many times, including over the Obama administration’s plan to limit heat-trapping carbon pollution from power plants.


Jeremy Deaton writes for Nexus Media, a syndicated newswire covering climate, energy, policy, art and culture. You can follow him at @deaton_jeremy.

Source: Nexus Media. Reproduced with permission.

  

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  • Roadtripper

    I sometimes wish for the worst to happen to the environment just so these politicians can finally be proven beyond any doubt that they’re wrong.

    The Y2K bug comes to mind: People spent years leading up to it testing and planning for the event and when the clock ticked over nothing serious happened. The people who were pushing for the testing got criticised for scaremongering.

    • john

      In fact it was because the code was altered in the date part of code from 2 digit to 4 that there were no critical issues.
      The code in some computer programming addressed a year date as “##” instead of the change to “####” so if the 2 digit had been left in place the day 2000 ticked over would have resulted in 00-99 = -99 which would then have created an error and the program stopping.
      You are correct it was because of programmers fixing the date aspect, because the programs were written with no thought that they would still be in use by 2000.

      If my memory serves me correctly was it not Pascal that had this problem?

      • 小杜 (xiao du)

        More COBOL.

        Pascal wasn’t really used for much except teaching, and some Delphi Windows craplets.

        Issue wasn’t the programmers, it was the beancounters. Ram wasn’t cheap at the time, nor was disk space. Saving space was crucial in the early days. That extra byte for the century was space wasted in their view.

        • Steve

          It wasn’t computer languages but operating systems, and databases. A program would need to interrogate the OS to ask the time. Also data bases encoding dates would be at risk.

          Pascal did not have a date data type, and neither did COBOL.

          • 小杜 (xiao du)

            COBOL was one of the most commonly used languages to store data in the 60’s; Heck there are still quite a few mainframes running using data from then, albeit with modern systems screen scraping to get data in/out.

            COBOL could store integers, and it was common to use either 1 or 2 bytes to store numbers.

            Again, as I have noted, memory and disk space was at a price premium, so savings were important.

    • Tinman_au

      “I sometimes wish for the worst to happen to the environment just so these politicians can finally be proven beyond any doubt that they’re wrong.”

      The problem with that is they’d die before admitting it’s anthropological, they’ll just claim climate changes anyway and it’s not our fault…