February is warming faster than any month
February is the fastest-warming month in Jacksonville, with average temperatures now sitting 4.3 degrees higher than they were half a century ago.
The average temperature in Jacksonville for February this year was 58.8 degrees, which is about 1.3 degrees higher than normal. The River City also saw just 2.09 inches of rain, or 73% of what’s typically expected in February. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction center expects a warmer-than-usual March throughout Florida as well.
The rising temperatures are the direct result of global climate change, according to Orlando-based climate scientist Daniel Gilford. He said climate change is driven by human activity, specifically the burning of fossil fuels.
“People ask me this all the time: ‘What does a degree Fahrenheit or two degrees Fahrenheit change mean for me?’ And the example I like to use is that if you were to run a 1- or 2-degree fever, that would be pretty dramatic,” said Gilford, who works for Climate Central. “If you run a 2-degree fever, that's pretty dangerous. It indicates that something is wrong with the systems in your body. And we are running a fever on this planet right now.”
Gilford says we’re already experiencing symptoms from that fever. Global sea levels, for example, are rising dramatically, especially along the East Coast of the U.S. and the Gulf Coast.
“As we're facing more and more stresses, Florida in particular is going to be in a unique position with regards to the threat that it's facing from extreme weather and increases in temperature and sea level rise. So I see us as sort of a good place to start thinking about and start working towards solving climate change,” he said. “Anyone that is living in the state of Florida and starting to think more about how climate is affecting their communities, the thing that I would tell them is please talk about climate change.”
If people talk about climate change more often, Gilford believes the issue will start to become less of an afterthought when decisions are made. And according to Gilford and other scientists who study climate change, urgent action is needed if we’re to ensure a safer and healthier future for our children and grandchildren.
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