By: Timea Horvath
Students sunbathing on campus’s lawn, trees blossoming, and sunny weather are not an unusual view these days at Simpson University. While it all feels wonderful and makes studying more pleasurable, we must remember that this is not normal.
Our climate is changing drastically.
California is currently in the process of breaking new drought records. This year’s first two months are shaping to be the driest January and February in state history. And currently there is no change likely to come.
In a recent article by Cal Matters, Erik Ekdahl, a deputy director with the State Water Resources Control Boards, shared, “There’s no precipitation forecast through the remainder of February. And there’s very little precipitation in the long-range forecast for March. All this is pointing to, again, some pretty dire conditions statewide for drought.”
It is much easier, however, to understand the seriousness of the current drought by directly experiencing it. Dr. Nicodemus, the Associate Professor of Biology at Simpson University agreed to address this issue.
“On campus, it is more difficult to see the signs of warming because we use supplemental watering to keep the ponds full and the landscaping green. So far this year, we have had very little rainfall and high temperatures. One year does not make a trend that we could attribute to climate change, but these patterns of warm weather and less rain have been consistent over many years.”
As soon as students leave campus, though, evidence of drought is noticeable in many places.
“Around Redding, the nearly empty reservoirs, the low depth of the Sacramento River, and the drought in general indicate that this year so far has been drier than what it should be. When we combine that with the droughts we have experienced over the last decades and the increased prevalence of fire both here in Shasta County and all over the state, it suggests that there is trend to a change in the overall climate,” Dr. Nicodemus continued.
Droughts do not happen without a reason. They are part of a bigger problem. Global warming. It is one of the most controversial issues nowadays and it is difficult not to get lost in the flood of mutually exclusive information and news. That is why it is so important to look for credible sources and double-check things.
Redding has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate, with very hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. The winter season (October – April) is supposed to provide the most precipitation of the year and the weather during these months tends to be either rainy or foggy with occasional snow. December, January, and February are, in theory, the wettest months with up to 10 inches of rain on average. This year is much more different, and the future may be worse.
Data provided by the Shasta County Cooperative Extension shows that this January Redding got two inches of rain, and in February, zero.
“If this year holds to the trends we have seen in recent years, it would be likely that this summer would be dry, hot, and that there will again be many wildfires,” Dr. Nicodemus added.
Global warming is not a problem that can be solved in one day. It requires the determination of millions of people around the world and knowledgeable leaders who will introduce a smart action plan. Even though college students do not have the resources for making a drastic change, we still have a lot of power to make a change in our local society. Dr. Nicodemus explained that raising awareness through the people around us, reducing our personal use of fossil fuels, and conserving energy are things we can do easily and can make a difference.