We can all rest a bit easier now that the Polar Vortex has come and gone. The cold was not only deadly, but it most certainly left in its wake frozen pipes, spiking heating bills, and other issues for homes, properties, and sadly several unfortunate people that died in the cold.
For most of you, hopefully, the worst of the cold was a few frozen pipes. I’ve experienced it and in most cases have found that my hair dryer can do the trick. I typically start near the stopped up facet or outlet and work my way back along the pipe until it unfreezes (I find a dryer can work even when the pipe is behind a wall – it just takes longer). I’ve been lucky enough to avoid any bursting and on the upside, such events have always helped me fill up my spring project list.
The Polar Vortex event, however, has led a number of people to ask me how such cold happens in a world experiencing Global Warming. Well, the truth is that the two are most definitely not mutually exclusive; that’s the old problem of confusing weather with climate. They are definitely not the same thing.
As for the actual science, however, it would seem that the jury is still a bit out. Discover points to recent research that indicates a shifting arctic jet stream could definitely be related to our warming earth. In a nutshell, the artic is warming twice as fast as the rest of our planet and hence may be changing the jet stream and polar vortex. If you’re into the science, I’m sure there is a lot more to find online.
But either way, the few days of extreme cold doesn’t change the last 50 years of climate’s change and thus nor the importance of our combined efforts to produce and use more clean energy. So the next time someone complains about the heat (it will happen again I promise) remind them that there probably IS something they can do about it!