On Wednesday, January 17, the high temperature in Seattle was 57 degrees. The high in New Orleans was 35 degrees. Meanwhile, temperature records were broken across Alaska this week, with highs of 65 in Southeast Alaska. These kinds of startling mosaics of anomalous weather patterns are in line with the teleconnected consequences that come with the unravelling of the Arctic cryosphere, and specifically, sea ice. It is thought that the loss of Arctic sea ice contributes to intensified weather fluctuations in the midlatitudes, and this disruption is physically translated through the location and waviness of the East Coast jet stream and how far south polar air is shunted.

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And so, it is not all surprising that in the midst of our warm January in Seattle, I am wearing my now-infamous heels and I’m not cold (except for my heart—feminist hearts are made of frozen male tears). Last weekend, I skied on corn snow in a tee-shirt in the sunshine like it was April. This is what normal feels like in the Anthropocene.

This wave of warm weather in the Pacific Northwest is happening at the same time that national science agencies (including NOAA, NASA, and the UK’s Met Office) are publishing their 2017 global temperature anomaly reports—which show that 2017 was the hottest year ever measured without the boosting amplification of an El Niño oscillation. That sounds like a fairly newsworthy bit of information.

Sometimes the signs of climate warming are uncomfortable and scary—and sometimes they are ambient and seemingly benign. A warm January day doesn’t seem consequential, and yet all these changes are additive. It is a slow creep with a catastrophic punctuation. Like many “tragedy of the commons” problems, we can turn away from it when we choose to, because the consequences aren’t front and center. Similarly, we turn away from the suffering of others, the rising tide of tribalism, and the distortion of truth in our public spaces. Our human brains are very good at normalizing bad situations.

However, when we normalize the fact that we are changing the heat budget, the chemistry, the fate of life on this planet, we are playing a toxic and dangerous game. We are colluding ourselves into thinking, “This is ok, the climate has always changed, it won’t be as bad as they say, this isn’t my problem.” This is intergenerational injustice; and as we burn through the fossil fuel resources of this one finite planet and alter the geologic trajectory permanently, we are also dramatically reshaping the life-sustaining capacity of the planet for our children.

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I am sure all of us have heard one bro or another remark, “This global warming thing is great—I love warm weather.” Or, the ever popular and morally bankrupt, “Climate change doesn't matter because the planet will survive without us.” These sentiments are borne from the untethered vacuum of information and accountability that characterizes public discourse and public leadership right now. By and large, these attitudes are fueled by tribalism and derision of public experts—as if we, as public experts, have anything to gain by trying to sound a collective alarm.

It is very hard to distort the fact that trees in Seattle are starting to bud out, and that it feels like spring in mid-January. In the same vein, it’s hard to distort the fact that the planet is warming abruptly, with permanent consequence to human health, ecosystems, and energy infrastructure. The facts are just too damn robust. But, we don’t live in a world where facts matter. We live in a world of self-harm and nihilism on the grandest and most chaotic of scales.

Enjoy the weather, Seattle.