Climate Change Is Putting Punxsutawney Phil Out of a Job

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With the non-winter we've had here on the East Coast, this year, Punxsutawney Phil could not have done his job right no matter what the little guy predicted. "This is the most philosophically perplexing Groundhog Day ever," noted CNBC's John Carney. This year, our furry meteorologist "saw his shadow," meaning six more weeks of winter. But, what does that mean when the winter hasn't happened? We can't have six more weeks of something we haven't had. Perhaps six more weeks of non-winter is ahead. "Six more weeks of winter would imply there has been one in the first place," adds @globeandmail. Groundhog Day has become a paradox. Phil can't have the right answer, making his job basically obsolete. 

This isn't about right or wrong, it's about the ability to be right or wrong. Historically, our groundhog hasn't correctly predicted winter's final stretch, with about a 40 percent success rate, according to The National Climate Data Center. Of course, this isn't science, it's tradition, but, with the erratic seasons, he can only fail, making the tradition a lot less meaningful. 

Climate change is what's making things difficult for Phil. Even the Union of Concerned Scientists suggested we move Groundhog Day to earlier in the winter. 

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and the town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania has announced that Groundhog Day will be pushed forward eight days to January 25 in 2012 in recognition of the impact climate change has had in the region. 

Ok, so this was an April Fool's day Joke. But still, it's a joke that could save Phil's job. "If Punxawhatever Phil is paying attention to the data (which would put him well ahead of your average Congressman), he knows the average northeast winter is 2 weeks shorter than it used to be," journalist and environmentalist Bill McKibben told The Atlantic Wire, directing us to various sites that confirm Phil's possible fate. Like a lot of Americans these days, we bet Phil would like very much to hold on to his job during these wintery—though spring-like—economic times. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.