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By Candice Bernd
March 9, 2012
Caption : The 2011-2012 winter season has been one of the mildest on record.     

Climate change is starting to expose the groundhog tradition for what it is.

While the groundhog, named Punxsutawny Phil, predicted six more weeks of winter for this season, much of the United States is experiencing unseasonably sunny and warm days. The 2011-2012 winter season has turned out to be, well, not much of a winter season at all, with record highs nationwide, including in Alaska, New York, and Washington, D.C. Many Southern states have almost skipped the season entirely.

The lower 48 states have experienced 29 times the amount of record highs this season compared to record low temperatures, and Mother Nature continues to break record highs across much of the Eastern United States .

While many are celebrating the early onset of spring, experts say there are caution signs about the dangers of climate change just beneath the surface, as many plant and animal cycles are disrupted with the changing weather signals. (DCists—take the beloved cherry blossoms as an example; they could bloom earlier than planned this year, which is the 100th anniversary of their gifting from the mayor of Tokyo in 1912.)

The winter has been so mild this season that ice-fishing houses are sinking into lakes across the country as the ice becomes too thin to support the structures. Vehicles are reportedly falling into the ice as well.

With such an obviously warm winter this year, rhetoric about climate change is still lacking among politicos, but it’s an issue that can’t be ignored as they enjoy sunny days in winter months.

While this winter season is not the warmest on record, it follows the winter of 2006 closely as one of the warmest winter seasons. But it’s a season that is foreshadowing, unlike that pesky groundhog, what could be more common in the future as greenhouse gas pollution continues to rise—ever-increasing temperatures, unstable crops, and animal extinction.

Talk about a gloomy winter.

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