Monday, September 5, 2011

A Break in the Monstrous Heat

Now that the temperature is down under a 100, I can say this without getting shot: If you or someone you know does not believe in climate change, then there's a real disconnect going on between the body of accumulated knowledge you have access to and your own personal experience.

Understand that when I say "climate change," I'm not front-loading that short phrase with anything other than its intended meaning: climate change. It's not a buzz word. It's not a code phrase. At least, it isn't for me. It just means that the weather is flipped out, and if you don't believe THAT, then you're living in a cave somewhere.

I'm only forty-plus years old. But I'm old enough to remember when children stayed out all day in the Summer, and the only time it was ever an issue about the outside temperature was that week in August (in Abilene, Texas) when the Mercury touched 100 or above. Usually 101. Or 102.

It never got to 112. And it never stayed that way for more than a week, never mind three months. Now, I'm no metereologist, but living in Texas, I do tend to pay more attention to the weather than, say, the average Californian. I know too many people who live on ranches, who own farms, and who depend on things like rainfall, both professionally and economically, to be more than a little concerned about the fact that it's been hotter, for longer, every year for the past ten years. This year was untenable. And it's clearly not over yet, thanks to the wildfires.

And then there's the hurricanes, and the tsunamis, and the floods. We used to see them every year, but they were remote and spaced out. When a hurricane or a tornado hit an American city in the 80s or the 90s, it was a big, big deal. Now it happens every year, and with such frequency that, like most good TV-watching Americans, we're numb to it. I wonder how much money it costs us as Americans to deal with those disasters? I don't know, but I'm betting it's a lot.

These are empiracal, inarguable facts. Something has changed. It's gotten worse in my lifetime. The polar ice caps are melting. That means something, too. It means something because they've been solid sheets of ice for as long as mankind has been exploring and encountering them. Now they are shrinking. It's bad for the wildlife, sure, but it seems to also be bad for us, too. Again, I'm no scientist, but that's my gut feeling.

I'm not going to frame a debate as to the cause of it all. I'm pretty sure, though, that there's not a single cause, but most likely a combination of things that has contributed to it all--including our involvement.That's really what "climate change" has come to mean for some folks, after all; we did it to ourselves. Period. We're solely responsible. That may be accurate--I really don't know. Some people believe that. Other people don't.

I think personally that what's gone on in the past hundred years (our explosive population growth and the rise of the machine age) has certainly played a contributing role. And while there may, in fact, be an inevitability to these kinds of meterological changes, and it's some sort of planetary accounting system to balance the books, and we  had the bad luck to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, I am nonetheless convinced that we could, if we really wanted to, take some serious steps to diminish our portion of the percentage of the problem. Say that the amount of human involvement is, I don't know, 33% of the overall problem. What if we shored up our shortcomings? Got rid of our contributing factors altogether? Would the Earth self-correct faster? Again, I don't know. I don't think anyone does, but I'm betting the brainiacs have some good guesses. Regardless, I think having one third less Hurricanes per season would be worth the effort, don't you? Maybe we could keep the storm naming in the designated range of the standard alphabet, without having to resort to Greek letters.

I don't have any answers. But I'm worried about what's coming next year. And the year after that. It seems as though, despite the appearance of a few wind turbines in Texas, that it's getting worse. And the public outcry gets caught up on whether or not the problem is fossil fuels, or a lack of recycling, and oh by the way, why do you, as a socialist, hate freedom. That's not helpful. It's the pipes on the U.S.S. Enterprise: G.N.D.N. Stands for "Goes nowhere, does nothing." That's what happens when people start debating climate change.

I just want it to rain again. Would some of you in the Military-Industrial Complex please start working on that? Maybe the Mayans had the right idea after all.

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