In less than four weeks, we'll close the books on 2019 and will enter a brand new decade. The 2010s have been memorable, to say the very least on the weather front, and have brought climate change to the forefront. The trends are alarming, to say the very least, on the local, national, and global levels.
The decade will, without a doubt, go in the books as Rockford's warmest on record. According to a study released by the climate think-tank Climate Central, since the 1970s, decadal temperatures here have increased every decade. The 1970s saw an average temperature of 47.5° in Rockford. That number grew to 48.1° in the 1980s, to 48.6° in the 1990s, and eclipsed 49° in the 2000s. The 2010s, however, saw a stunning surge in decadal temperature. As of December 1, that figure reads 50.0°, up nearly one full degree over the past decade! That figure may decline ever so slightly over the final days of the year, but still is a remarkable one.
On the national scale, a similar warming trend is being noted. While fluctuations occurred with decadal temperatures over the first half of the century, Climate Central's research finds there's been a significant uptick in temperatures over the past four decades. Since the 1970s, decadal temperatures over the United States as a whole have risen more than two degrees. Given the sheer expanse of the country's landscape, a nearly 4% increase in nationwide temperatures is jaw-dropping!
Since climate change isn't just a local or national concept, rather, a global one, it's prudent to analyze those trends as well. They, too, show a jarring uptick in temperatures over the past half century. Every decade since the 1960s has posted decadal temperature surpluses, with the departure from normal increasing dramatically with every successive decade.
These local, national, and global trends are concerning, to say the very least. As our climate warms, billion-dollar weather disasters are becoming more and more frequent. Arctic sea ice levels are shrinking faster than ever before. Hurricanes are getting stronger as our oceans warm. There's real cause for concern that our changing climate will have tremendous consequences for humans and the Earth as a whole in upcoming decades, should these trends continue.
There are, at least, some reasons for optimism. There's more awareness about the topic than ever before. It's being taken more seriously by Americans, choosing electric vehicles over gas-guzzling counterparts at record levels, and being more conscientious as a whole in prioritizing the importance of how we can have an impact on our world. With the 2020s now firmly in sight, it's our hope it brings continued momentum in the fight against climate change.