U.S Freezes, As Australia Sizzles

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It has been crazy weather not just in the U.S, but around the world.

An arctic blast has brought one of the coldest winters in recent history to parts of the U.S. Temperatures are expected to dip to -30 degrees Celsius in parts of the Midwest including cities such as Chicago and Minneapolis. With wind chill, it will be almost -50 degrees Celsius, which is colder than some parts of Alaska and Antarctica!

This level of dangerous cold can cause frostbite within five minutes of exposure. Schools are closed and universities have canceled classes. Cities like Chicago have opened up warming centers for the homeless, as well as local buses will be patrolling the streets and picking up anyone who needs help. 

Australia Sizzles

Meanwhile, it is a very different story in Australia and New Zealand which are in the midst of summer as they lie in the Southern Hemisphere. 

Residents have been asked to stay indoors with their pets, as temperatures have soared to 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) in some parts of Australia. Electricity grids have failed leaving some people without power. Wildfires have broken out in Tasmania. With rivers running dry, wild animals such as horses and bats have literally been dying from the heat and thirst.  

Australia has been suffering from drought for the past two years. Scientists point out that the changing climate is largely due to warming ocean waters which are at least 1 degree Celsius hotter.

Time For Action

One of the primary reasons for these extreme weather patterns around the world is global warming. There are some who deny climate change is real because of the extreme cold enveloping the United States. But the polar vortex is a direct consequence of rising temperatures interfering with polar wind patterns as we had explained here.  

There is a difference between short-term weather and long-term climate. Erik Larson, who works at the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), explains the difference in this article. Scientists like Erik have been collecting and analyzing data for decades from land-monitoring systems as well as satellites orbiting our Earth. 

Besides scientists, young people are speaking up for their future. Despite being only 16, Greta Thunberg is already bringing awareness to climate change among all generations. On Twitter, she has created hashtags such as #FridaysForFuture, which inspired multiple rallies and protests in Sweden, her home country. 

Recently, Thunberg spoke at the World Economic Forum that took place in Davos, Switzerland. In her speech, she  emphasized that action needs to be taken immediately and that the things we are doing now are not targeting the root of the issue. She encouraged people (especially those in power) to think of the world we share before themselves and their personal gains.

With the youth, Thunberg uses social media as a means of getting her message across: that we need to take action before the damage we’ve done is too much to recover from. Below is a video of Greta's speech at the recent Davos Summit. 

Sources: NYTimes, Guardian, BBC, Washington Post