Monday, December 5, 2011

A dry and stormy future

The southwestern part of the country, from Texas right west to California, has had one of its driest years on record. Moreover, it has also been one of the hottest on record. It has been the all-time worst fire year in Texas and has seen the biggest and most damaging wildfires ever in Arizona and New Mexico. The summer just past was the hottest ever recorded in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and New Mexico. In my part of Texas, we endured an August where every single day except one had high temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit - often well above 100. If you've enjoyed this year's weather, you are going to love the future here, because there is every indication that this year has been a harbinger of things to come. Drought, heat, wildfires and extreme storms may well be the norm for this region in the foreseeable future.

We should no longer talk of climate change in futuristic terms. Climate change is not happening only in some distant future. Climate change HAS happened and we have contributed to it, making the change more severe and more rapid than it should have been. The really bad news is that we have no inclination or will to change our ways and try to stop or slow the arc of change and so it is likely to continue at an ever faster pace until it is finally too late to do anything to ameliorate it. If it isn't already. According to the scientists at the Global Carbon Project, global emissions of carbon dioxide set a post-Industrial Revolution record in 2010. Want to bet they won't break that record this year?

Meantime, on the political front, every viable Republican candidate for president denies there is any relationship between human-caused carbon dioxide emissions and the heating up of the planet. There are not enough votes in Congress to pass even the weakest legislation to try to reduce our contribution to the problem. And the president utterly refuses to lead on this issue. The words "global warming" and "global climate change" have been expunged from his vocabulary.

What is a concerned citizen to do? This is not a problem that will yield to individual actions, no matter how sincere. There are some things that only a government can do and cleaning up the atmosphere, removing the pollutants that contribute to global warming is one of those things. And the only way government WILL do that is if enough angry voters demand that it be done. It's not something that can be completed in one election cycle perhaps but, in the long run, if we keep the pressure on and refuse to vote for anti-science extremists who would sell the earth to the polluters, then perhaps we can change this government and make it once again  a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people." For the sake of my sanity, I have to believe that that is possible.

No comments:

Post a Comment