It is two days after Groundhog’s Day here in the US, so I don’t know if we should be worried that more ice, snow and frigid weather will be upon us or more extreme heat for our friends down under. I am often bemused by our non-global warming believers who see colder weather for a brief time and pronounce this as evidence that global warming is hoax.
Irrespective of the mistake of equating weather patterns with long term climate, they seem to look only at what is in front of them and their misguided argument could be contradicted in their terms by saying it was hotter than hell during the Australian Open where the competitors had serious dehydration worries. But, that would be a tit-for-tat weather battle, which is only a day in the life of climate that is indeed warming around the planet due to the influence of man.
Our friend Lisa (or Z) in Ecuador has been speaking of the encroaching river and oceans on their country’s shores. This is a problem that is being witnessed around the globe and in my home country. Climate change has already begun to change the equation to a “new normal” in communities near or on the shore. The definition I found most understandable, is the increasing sea levels are like raising the basketball court, shortening the height of the basket from ten feet. As storms hit the shores or the sea just rises, it is like dunking a basketball on an elevated court. It is easier to do with a raised court, which is an analogy as it is easier for water and storms to cause damage.
Even without the storms, low-lying areas are being impacted by high tides. The tides are climbing higher on the shore and when they subside, more water is left behind. I wrote a post about twenty months ago on the inhabitants of the Cartaret Islands where the Pacific Ocean is absorbing their island. It started with the saline destroying their crops after higher high tides and now it is threatening their lives. These inhabitants talk openly of global warming and petitioned other island residents to see if they could move their people to that island. They did finally get a group of people who were willing to let them live there. Here is a link to the post.
Here in the US with the heavy backing of the fossil fuel industry, the US is full-bore into fracking for natural gas and debating building another pipeline to garner the shale gas from Canadian developers. While natural gas is a better alternative than coal, its retrieval leaves a lot to be desired impacting water and air for those near the sites. Plus, an interesting development is frackers just vent unneeded gas into the air, which is causing greater amounts of methane in our atmosphere, negating the carbon gas savings from replacing natural gas burning for the coal emissions. The other drawback is so much money is being made by the developers making the US more energy independent, we lose sight of the fact we need to more aggressively move away from fossil fuels than we are.
So, we are in a pay me now or pay me later predicament. The cost of paying later shows up with each hurricane that hits a low-lying area. Hurricane Sandy will cost over $100 billion when repairs are completed. The cost of paying later is showing up with coastal insurance premiums growing at accelerated rates. The cost of paying later is more elongated droughts and forest fires, which we have been seeing around the globe for a couple of years. The cost of paying it later are coral reefs dying off, which greatly harms the food chain. My brother-in-law is in the US Fisheries Department and they track declining fish populations due in part to global warming.
With respect to global warming, the future is now. We are paying the cost of later now. We must invigorate our activities to move toward alternative energy sources. And, if some fool mistakes a cold spell as an argument against global warming, tell him he is making a nice joke and ask him to be serious. As we all need to be serious about this.