Last Friday, here in the Houston area, we had snow and ice, a most uncommon occurrence for this part of the world. Whenever something like that happens, it brings out the climate warming deniers here (of which there are many - this is Texas, after all) who send letters to the editor and to bloggers like me proclaiming, "THIS PROVES THAT GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE IS A HOAX!!!" To which I reply, "Tell me about it next July or August."
Of course, daily weather does not equal climate. Only daily weather writ large, over the period of a decade or a century or five hundred years, can begin to equal climate. And the record for the last five hundred years is clear - the climate is changing. To which the deniers will reply, "Earth's climate is always changing and it used to be a lot hotter than it is now." Well, yes, it did, but there weren't these sensitive little critters called humans living on its surface back then.
During the relatively short time that humans have inhabited the earth, the climate has been in a more moderate phase - else humans could not have inhabited the earth. But now, we humans have changed the face of the earth and have affected the climate control mechanisms of the "big, blue marble" to an extent that our home planet is heating up, faster than it should and fast enough and severely enough to threaten our existence here.
The basic facts of global warming are not really in question any more except for those cranks who will continue to deny it is happening even as the coastline of the Gulf of Mexico reaches Oklahoma City, and this is the week that representatives from 200 countries begin their meeting in Copenhagen to try and work out a strategy and maybe even a treaty for tackling the thorny issue. Like one of my heroes, Paul Krugman, I feel cautiously optimistic about their chances. At least, the United States, at long last, has left the ranks of the deniers and obstructionists and is actually participating in this good faith effort, and that alone is cause for hope.
My home is a lot closer to the coast than Oklahoma City and so I have good reason to wish them well.