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Published: Thursday, 3/29/2012

Just chill

Perhaps the best thing that can be said about Ohio's freakish weather of late is: Don't freak out about it.

The Earth's climate is changing. It has changed throughout history, and will continue to do so.

Discussions about the degree to which humans affect those changes are best left to experts. Knee-jerk assumptions about short-term, regional weather patterns are virtually meaningless in the broad picture of long-term climate trends.

So get outside. Enjoy the unseasonably warm days. Remember the past three months fondly as the winter that wasn't. Bicycle. Play tennis. But recognize the trade-offs: confused tulip bulbs, early bird arrivals, crop damage, and an abundance of mosquitoes, ticks, and hay fever.

There are plenty of ways to reduce greenhouse gases in the long run, from car-pooling to more efficient use of lights. But for now, take guiltless pleasure in the fact that one warm March -- even one abnormally warm year -- is not a climate trend.

Don't leap to conclusions about the Midwest's upcoming tornado season, either. Hurricanes are linked to climate change. Tornadoes are not. Tornadoes are among the hardest things in nature to predict. The nation's top severe-weather researchers say that a warming climate could result in more or fewer tornadoes, some weaker and some stronger. The correlation is still unknown.

Be aware of freakish weather, but don't assume it's a symptom of anything larger. Climate change is real and must be addressed. But convergences of jet streams are bound to occur. Extremes happen. For now, chill out and enjoy.

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