The real question to ask the groundhog, an animal humans imbue with the task of predicting seasons, is why we keep making it do the job of science.
This year could have been different. The groundhog could’ve woken up and said, “Um, get ready for eternal spring, motherfuckers, ’cause it’s gonna be warm every winter from now on everywhere until you people die of environmental suffocation of your own creation and exterminate other living things in the process, ya dumb fucks. Let me sleep!” This didn’t happen. Via CBS News:
The handlers of Pennsylvania’s most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, said the furry rodent has “predicted” six more weeks of winter after seeing his shadow at dawn Thursday.
The top hat-wearing members of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club’s Inner Circle reveal Phil’s forecast every Feb. 2, based on a German legend surrounding Candlemas. The legend says if a furry rodent casts a shadow that day, winter continues. If not, spring comes early.
There will be six more weeks of “winter.” Also, 2016 was the hottest recorded year in Earth’s history.
Phil has forecast winter 103 times previously and predicted spring 18 times, most recently in 2016. As we all know, what’s more important to keep in mind is the value of research about how climate change truly affects animals, i.e. this study run by UCLA ecology/biology professor Daniel T. Blumstein, who wrote for the Chicago Tribune:
The study follows individually marked yellow-bellied marmots at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Gothic, Colo. The value of the work is rooted in its longevity — it’s one of the longest-running studies of its kind and an important tool for studying evolution in action. The animals are now emerging about a month earlier in the spring than they did 30 or 40 years ago. Understanding how individual groundhogs respond to environmental change is essential if we want to predict how animals will react to global warming and other human-driven habitat shifts.