Finding, shoveling, and salting Nemo

Will Berger, Staff Writer

Unless you have been living underground, devoid of television, radio, and artsy Instagram pictures, you probably noticed the snowstorm that blew through the entire Northeast.

The storm blasted through the region with up to three feet of snow in the Northeast and Canada, and left some of the highest accumulations ever recorded.  Still, coastal areas were largely spared serious damage despite being lashed by strong waves and hurricane-force wind gusts.

Hundreds of thousands of families lost power in a range of states, most notably Connecticut and Massachusetts.  Fortunately, hurricane-torn New Jersey was spared from the worst of the storm, probably because the Garden State, ironically, is covered in blacktop.

It was dubbed Nemo, as a shameless bid by the Weather Channel to take over the storm-naming job from the World Meteorological Organization (the U.N. of weather geeks).  You’d think that Nemo was the storm’s official name, but you’d be wrong.  Other unusual and irritating storm name ideas included: Mick Jagger, Gandolf, or whatever else happens when your cat steps on your keyboard.

Like any other disaster, people naturally look for something or someone to blame.  The easiest target for a natural disaster is global warming, or its politically correct twin: climate change.  Climatologists were in general agreement that climate change laid the groundwork for Superstorm Sandy, with higher sea levels, warmer ocean temperatures, and more energy in the storm system.

Nemo is a similar story.  Climatologists say that there’s evidence that climate change made Nemo stronger and “snowier.”  Kenneth Trenberth, the senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, told the Cape Cod Times that “global warming doesn’t cause these storms, but it does add to their intensity.  Sea temperatures are higher, and there is more moisture over the ocean as a result, waiting to be sucked up by the storm.”

In addition, large snowstorms must be at the perfect temperature; they won’t hold enough moisture if they’re too cold, so temperatures that are warmer-than-average can actually make a blizzard “blizzardier,” which, I believe, is the technical term for it.

And in the most ironic twist, climate change may also be the cause of deafness in clownfish, the fish popularized by Pixar’s Finding Nemo.  If you didn’t hate global warming already, this should push you over the edge.  The Earth’s oceans take in large amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere, slowly making them more acidic.

This can be a big problem for many underwater species that are not accustomed to these conditions, including the species found in coral reefs.

So while global warming may have strengthened Nemo (the storm), it may have weakened the lovable orange fish from the animated movie.  This stuff writes itself.