Climate change educators: Warm weekend temperatures nothing to celebrate

BOSTON — It was 70 degrees on Saturday in Boston, and 74 degrees on Sunday, with that temperature reading an all-time record for the month.

But for climate change educators and activists, those high temperatures are nothing to celebrate.

In case you were wondering about that shorts and sandals over the weekend, one climate change professor said it shouldn’t have happened.

“It is not typical. It’s unprecedented. Broke all kinds of records,” said Jennie Stephens, a professor at Northeastern University.

Stephens suggests it is evidence something much larger is broken.

“The heat balance of the earth is changing and shifting and causing very anomalous extreme weather. And causing a kind of climate chaos,” she said.

Lost in that chaos is consistency.

Boston last saw a 70-degree reading in January 70 years ago in 1950.

Commonly, the first 70-degree days hold off until March or April.

But to have two 70-degree days in January “is a warning sign for all of us,” Stephens said.

In truth, warning signs have been building for weeks.

It’s not uncommon to have a mild day or two in January, a period we commonly refer to as the January thaw. But here’s the problem this winter: you can’t have a thaw, if there’s nothing to thaw.

Nothing to thaw, because in what should be the coldest month of the year, not a single day, thus far, has registered a high temperature below freezing.

“The rate of change of our climate is very troubling and unprecedented in history,” Stephens said.

It was a lovely weekend.

“When it got colder again late last night we’re feeling like, ‘Oh, too bad,’” Stephens said. “It was nice.”

Nice, but Stephens said, it’s definitely not normal.

Northeastern University is holding a free course in the spring semester on climate change, which is open to anyone who would like to take it. The course, called Climate Change: A Course for Everyone, will be held on Wednesdays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.