add_theme_support( 'post-thumbnails' );Climate Change is Hurting Boston - BANG.
Elizabeth Breitmeyer / Gavel Media

Climate Change is Hurting Boston

Cold snaps. Heat waves. Nor’Easters. And everything in between. So far, this Boston winter has been quite the anomaly. 

Boston winters are often characterized by storms and snowfall, but as this winter progressed, we saw very little of either. As a first-year student at Boston College coming from Delaware, I wasn’t sure what to expect from a Boston winter. I hoped for a couple of snow days and for the opportunity to sled. However, my prediction turned out to be quite wrong. This winter has been characterized by warm temperatures stretching into January followed by days when it reaches -30 degrees Fahrenheit with wind chill. 

As the winter months came to a close, myself and many other Bostonians were confused by the unusually warm season. In a city where harsh winter storms are commonplace, this winter has been much milder than what many were expecting. Boston’s average temperature for December 2022 to February 2023 was nearly 5 degrees Fahrenheit above the average, making this the fourth-warmest winter on record. According to the National Weather Service, Boston has only received 12.4 inches of snowfall this season. With winter coming to a close, this is extremely concerning for many Boston residents as the city’s average is 45.6 inches. Despite this sharp decrease in snowfall, precipitation accumulation has remained virtually unchanged as reported by the National Weather Service.

While the mild winter boosted the city's economy, with many residents venturing into the city to dine, explore, and shop, it also points to the ominous threat of climate change. According to the Greater Boston Research Advisory Group report released by researchers at UMass Boston, temperatures could rise by as much as 10 degrees by 2100 leading to almost 80 days a year with 90-degree weather in the city. Along with this rise in temperature, we are likely to see rising sea levels and more extreme weather. Rising sea levels could devastate the low-lying coastal areas of the city such as the North End and Seaport, destroying much of Boston’s rich history and culture. More importantly, rising sea levels and extreme weather could also lead to the loss of thousands of lives if mishandled. With sea levels predicted to rise between 1.5-3 feet in the aforementioned UMass report, thousands of lives and businesses along the coast are at risk. 

While the city has implemented a Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen critical infrastructure, mother nature always prevails. Many—including myself—believe these efforts are futile and are doing too little too late. For many coastal cities like Boston, the inevitable effects of climate change are less than a few decades away. If we truly value these cities and the lives of those living in them, we must take immediate action to mitigate the effects of climate change. As residents of Boston, it is critical that we take action and force our legislators to pass sustainable environmental policies. We must demand limits on greenhouse gas emissions and create new infrastructure to protect the most vulnerable parts of our city. Furthermore, we must address the root causes of climate change on an international level in order to ensure security and safety for those across the globe. 

Many Bostonians were happy with the mild winter temperatures as snow and ice didn’t impede daily life. However, many of these residents have never taken the time to consider why this winter was so mild and what impact it may have had. If we continue to ignore and push off the issue of climate change, we will inevitably be submerged in the ocean or be buried by an extreme winter storm. We must continue to educate all people about the impending effects of climate change, before our time runs out.

Economics and Political Science Double Major with specific interests in international relations, environmentalism, and current events.