Thursday, September 15, 2011

Climate reality bites

Texas has set another unhappy record.  It has become the hottest state on record.  During June, July, and August of this year, the state had an average temperature of 86.8 degrees.  Temperature-related energy demands in the state were more than 22 percent above normal for this period.  That is the largest increase since record-keeping of energy demands began more than a century ago.

Combine the fact of our record-breaking heat with the fact of our record-breaking drought and you've got a real disaster.  Add the fact that much of the state is on fire and you've got a catastrophe.  Wildfires have so far consumed an area that is the size of Connecticut.  The Texas Forest Service which has primary responsibility for fighting the fires (and which has had its budget cut drastically by our prescient state legislature and governor) issued a statement last week which said in part:  "No one on the face of this earth has ever fought fires in these extreme conditions."

Climate scientists have predicted that the phenomenon popularly called "global climate warming" could be more accurately called "global climate craziness" because it's not a matter of simple warming.  The forces that are affecting our planet's climate cause everything to be extreme.  Hot is hotter.  Cold is colder.  Wet is wetter.  And, yes, dry is drier.  This is not some hoax that climate scientists made up in order to milk research grant funds.  This is simple physics.  Humans are causing the atmosphere to heat up because of our carbon emissions.  Warmer air holds more water vapor.  Atmospheric circulation patterns shift, and places that would normally be rather wet, like the Texas Gulf Coast, are, instead, trapped under an unmovable high which keeps all moisture far away.  Our climate patterns are changing, perhaps for a very long-term, because we refuse to do anything to change our part in the equation.

And still we have politicians like Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann who continue to deny any of these very basic facts.  They accuse climate scientists, 98 percent of whom are in agreement about the causes of these global climate changes, of fraud.  It is shameful, and yet it is no more than we've come to expect of a certain class of politicians.  What is truly troubling is that the politicians who know better are not pushing back harder and working to make green jobs sustainable and attractive to the market place.  We need a carbon tax, gasoline tax, or a cap-and-trade system - or perhaps all three - that will make renewable energies more competitive with dirty fuels.  As things stand now, all the tax breaks and incentives go to Big Coal and Big Oil and as long as their lobbyists continue to control our legislators it is likely to stay that way.

The truth about what is affecting our climate is currently being broadcast around the world in a 24-hour program called the Climate Reality Project.  The project continues online until 7:00 P.M. tonight.  If you are brave enough to take the truth, visit their website and get involved.  
 

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