We’ve all had some crazy weather this past winter, haven’t we? And not just this past winter – in fact the weather’s been a bit odd for several years now. Some places are feeling it more than others – the coldest, snowiest winter in decades in the Midwest, the seemingly endless drought in California which experts are now saying has reached a new level of severity, an increase in wildfires in the west, and in February 11 inches of snow fell in Tokyo, a city which averages only 4-inches per year. In Europe storm after storm has drenched the UK:
As of mid-February, more than 5,000 homes and businesses were flooded, and 150 square miles of land were submerged, according to news reports.
What’s causing it? Duh. Climate change! According to a recent paper “What We Know,” by the American Assn. for the Advancement of Science, climate change is the clear answer to this question, and what’s more, it’s getting too late to do much about it.
Though recent polls show many Americans think global warming remains a topic of scientific disagreement, 97% of climate scientists agree that humans are causing climate change — a level of consensus comparable to the science linking smoking to heart and lung disease, the report notes.
“The evidence is overwhelming: levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are rising,” the report says. “Temperatures are going up. Springs are arriving earlier. Ice sheets are melting. Sea level is rising. The patterns of rainfall and drought are changing. Heat waves are getting worse as is extreme precipitation. The oceans are acidifying.”
Do yourselves a favor and read the very sobering report. It’s not long and it’s very straight forward. Read it with an open mind and clear thinking.
Personally I’ve been concerned about environmental issues since the 1970s. Back then it was more local issues that got my attention, like litter (I organized a little club to pick up trash along the highway when I was 10 years old) and overpopulation of pets (I also collected money for our local humane society). Later endangered species and pollution became a concern, and then deforestation, toxic waste sites, colony collapse and GMOs…well, let’s just say I’ve kept my finger on the environmental pulse for sometime now.
My concern for our environment is part of what has made me decide to become a science teacher. I fear we are the Titanic heading for the iceberg – and the closer we get the harder it is to shift course. Unfortunately shifting course is not as easy as one person at the helm spinning the wheel to set a new direction. Shifting course on climate change is going to require a concerted effort by all nations and by people at all levels. Frankly I’m not sure it can be done. I think we are in for some rocky times ahead.