We, in the Caribbean, do not greet groundhogs; these giant underground squirrels found in North America. However, we in the Caribbean, do greet the first twelve days of each year, making observations as each day supposedly predicts our weather pattern for each month. In Canada and North America though, it is these fat underground squirrels that predict whether winter goes on for another six weeks or whether spring comes in. Every second day of the second month of the year, February 2, the groundhog supposedly comes looking for its shadow which is only seen in sunny weather. If it sees its shadow, the cold winter goes on for another six weeks.  

Many of us look forward to visitng Magic Kingdom Park in Disney World. There we would hardly find our groundhogs, and these animals definitely would not understand the words from Disney’s Frozen,“the cold never bothered me anyway”   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0MK7qz13bU

“The cold never bothered me anyway”, sadly words never to be sang again, if ever it was, by two University students who were found frozen  https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/vermont-student-found-frozen_us_5c572e97e4b09293b2052f71 Dangerous outcomes for these students came about as they both became “… one with the wind and sky” words from Frozen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0MK7qz13bU

Forget Frozen, Remember Gobal Warming

Globally we seem to be living an unrelenting Groundhog Day of extreme floodings, harsh hurricanes and odd weather patterns. In this way, ‘groundhog day’ refers to the series of unwelcome weather patterns that appear to be recurring in exactly the same way; that is worsening over time. How then could we cooly sing “the cold never bothered us anyway”? After all, the University of Iowa student was found frozen during the 51-Degree wind chill of the 8th Polar Vortex. The U.S. Postal Services suspended mail deliveries in ten States during the Polar Vortex https://www.forbes.com/sites/kionasmith/2019/01/31/u-s-postal-service-suspends-mail-deliveries-in-10-states-during-polar-vortex/#c0bb9c13d820

So the cold bothers us for sure! But how do we get this Polar Vortex? A vortex exists at the earth’s poles where a wide expanse of cold air; the jet stream, keeps circulating within a specific region of the pole. If the vortex at the North Pole weakens; gets cooler, then the expanse of circulating cold air changes form, causing part of it to break off and push towards the South causing outbreaks of extreme cold temperatures in the United States. This is when the vortex is called a Polar Vortex.   

“The snow glows white on the mountain tonight, not a footprint to be seen” words from Frozen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0MK7qz13bU could well be taken as a warning. A warning for each of us to reduce our carbon footprints and have that reduction felt by our planet. Much has been spoken of the reduction not in carbon footprints but in the Arctic Sea Ice, with reported rates of twelve percent per decade. Some scientists predicting an ice-free Arctic by 2030.  The recent fatalities are  reminders that the cold does in fact ‘bother us’. But more than that, it is the warmth, the extreme warmth that is the real culprit.

Tourists are invited to embrace the Caribbean sun, sea and sand. Nowadays though, we also have to encourage precautions since we might have ‘too much of a good thing’ at least regarding the sun. It is this same sunlight that is managing sea ice levels. During the winter the Arctic Sea Ice grows and melts during Summer. However, as the ocean currents reaching the North Pole become warmer and warmer the amount of Arctic Ice being produced is decreasing greatly.

Some more wisdom in Frozen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0MK7qz13bU brings the reminder of being “… one with the wind and sky”. Everything is connected. Arctic sea ice is part of our global climate system since the polar ice caps regulates our global temperature by reflecting sunlight back into space. 

Mankind, we all are also part of our global climate system. Unfortunately many of us are that part that is contributing to system imbalances.  The impact of an ice-free Arctic are far-reaching, and could trigger catastrophic climate change in the future. Although it might not readily be appreciated how sea ice decline impacts the region, simple observation of our eratic weather patterns begs our recognition of global warming.

Go Green

We already know some man-made culprits, one being plastic. Good news is the possibility of having plastic-eating bacteria help reduce this waste https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Amh5k6Dbv0M

Even so there is only so much that science can do. Thankully, we also have those within the region who have started taking action to have footprints be seen.