Holy Schmoley! It’s-a some kinda hot out there! How much more of this is there going to be? We get a sort of “teaser” when the temperature is just hot–not an inferno–and then the whole thing turns on us and you can start looking for the hinges of H-E-DOUBLE TOOTHPICKS again right across the road. Wheww!
Leaving aside the fact that a whole lot of people don’t understand the difference between climate and weather (Weather–as I used to tell the seventh grade–is what you see out of the window or feel in your hip from an old football injury or hear on the nightly news; accuracy is not part of the equation. Climate is average weather over a long period…ten years, a hundred years, whatever. Weather is directly observable phenomena–rain, wind, temperature, air pressure, tornado, sunshine, cloud cover, etc. Climate is all about trends and “big picture” stuff.), It would seem to me to be quite clear that there is something big going on in the way of climate change; warming is only part of it. It’s all about extremes : hottest temperatures since the 1930’s, record snowfall in Colorado, worst flooding since 1913, drought in the southeastern U.S. stretching across Texas and into the southwest, famine in the Horn of Africa, record low temperatures and snowfall in Europe. The permafrost is thawing, the birds come back to find that the stuff that they eat has bloomed and gone or moved north to a new habitat. Poison ivy is flourishing, along with mosquitoes. The “good old days” were only about eighteen months ago, weatherwise; the changes are upon us. Batten down the hatches.
And who’s responsible for all of this…well, the biggest part anyway? Somebody roll out the big mirror!
Sure, sure, there have always been changes in climate caused by natural and utterly uncontrollable events–Volcanoes and/or earthquakes throw millions of tons or dust and ash and who know what else into the atmosphere (causing things like “the year with no summer” in 1815 after Krakatoa blew up in what’s now Indonesia), they change landscapes too, leading to heaven-know-what other alterations; comets and asteroids and various chunks of interplanetary debris smack into us from time to time (causing mass extinction of species, not so much because they were all directly struck but because their environment was irrevocably changed; solar flares and cosmic rays probably have their effects as well…haven’t you read the Superman comic books?
But for good old rapid-fire, cataclysmic, blind, “devil take the hindmost” alteration of the earth and anything on it, you can’t beat Homo sapiens.
No sooner did we master the whole agriculture thing–“Look, I just drop these little round tings we’ve been eating into holes in the ground and wait until new plants come up and I have more to eat!”–and the animal domestication thing–“Say, I’ll bet that whatever it is that baby animal is getting to eat we could eat too. C’mere, little critter. C’mere, mama beast,” than we start changing the landscape, changing the plants and animals themselves, herding and breeding, eating and moving all over the place, shaping land, altering watercourses, saving some things, wiping out others…sort of like fire ants.
Then comes fire, the real stuff. First thing you know we’re chowing down on roast beast, then building steam engines–time flies when you’re having fun. Burn up those forests! Ignite those black rocks! Boil down those right whales! Light up the Seneca Rock Oil! Burn, Baby, burn! Smoke? Soot? Particulate matter? Carbon Dioxide? Aaaah, the wind will take care of that. Not our problem.
Well, no, not right away, but researchers studying ice cores from wherever there’s year ‘round ice find layers of the stuff, beginning around the time of the Industrial Revolution. Dendrologists–they study trees–find signature rings in ancient trees indicating that things they are a-changin’…and not necessarily for the better.
For better or for worse–I’d put my money on “worse”–there is NO MORE earth being made, no more coal or gas or oil…or water (Trees are trying to hang on but we’re decimating forests at a great rate). Seems to me that it behooves us to get our heads around the idea that we’ve got to stop using up every last jot and tittle of the finite resources on the planet (mountain top removal, fracking, long-line fishing, etc.) and redouble our efforts to find new, safe power sources and resources of all kinds, for all kinds of uses. In the New Testament we learn the “the meek shall inherit the earth”; that may be because they’ll be the only ones not complaining about the shape it’s in.
Thus endeth the rant for today.