The first day of (H)Autumn

Christine Boynton, ‘08
Commentary Co-Editor

September 23, 5:51 a.m. Fall officially begins! 82 degrees Fahrenheit: The predicted temperature for the first day of fall.

Does it seem a bit warm to you? Granted, we are below the Mason-Dixon Line, a whole different climate zone for any fellow New-Englanders out there. Seriously though, looking at past temperatures of that first day of fall, forecasts have been noticeably crisper.

According to the National Weather Service, “Since 1900, global surface temperatures have risen at a rate of 1.0?F/century (0.6?C/century), but the rate has increased to approximately three times the century-scale trend since 1976.”

Here are just a few samplings of past September 23 weather:
2000- 64 ?F
1980- 78 ?F
1960- 62 ?F
1940- 62 ?F
1920- 52 ?F
1900- 62 ?F

And here in 2007, we’ll be sitting comfortably in our flipflops and t-shirts. That elusive fall weather dangled temptingly in front of our “hoodies” and Uggs.

Being seasonally frustrated, however, amounts to more than longingly eyeing those sweaters and boots. Seals have bigger problems. Recently, the Northwest Passage, a formerly impenetrable and treacherous area of ice from the Atlantic to Northern America and into the Pacific, has become less of an impassable glacier, and more of a… well, passage.

A journey that used to take years for seasoned mariners to traverse recently took a 76-year-old pig farmer from Minnesota exactly 45 days, onboard his personal sailboat.

Sound scary to you? Well, it should.

According to National Geographic, “Climate models had projected the passage would eventually open as warming temperatures melted the Arctic sea ice—but no one had predicted it would happen this soon.”

There’s been a lot of coverage in the media within the last few years about “global warming”/“climate change”/ “karma”, whatever you choose to call it. More and more people have begun to worry about environmental issues and take action. reports that “U.S. oil and gas companies have taken two distinct directions in response, with two companies making commitments to develop policies on carbon dioxide emissions and one company pledging to reduce emissions.”

The McDaniel campus has also been active in this environmental movement. According to Connor Rasmussen, president of the Environmental Action Club, their goal for the year is “trying to raise environmental awareness.” They plan to implement change through research of McDaniel environmental policy – by analyzing energy consumption in buildings on campus.

So yes, I’m miffed at having to wear flip-flops and a t-shirt on Sunday. But frankly, I won’t be thinking of those boots in the closet, hiding behind my scarves and sweaters. I’ll be visualizing those disappearing glaciers–which is more than future generations may be able to do.