Regular readers of this column know that I’m a big proponent of addressing climate change. We are definitely feeling the effects of not addressing it this year with the “heat domes.”
Years ago, I suggested we refer to climate change as “climate destabilization,” because the kinds of flood/drought, hot/cold episodes we are witnessing demonstrate exactly that. Although I’m not a scientist, I understand science, and I know that the jet stream is affected by changes in the Arctic, and the Arctic has been warming faster than the rest of the planet, as proven by the rapid reduction in summer ice. The heat domes of summer and the polar vortexes of the winter are direct results of that polar warming.
We are fortunate to have the climate change deniers out of power so that we can finally address climate change. Have we passed the tipping point? A few years ago, citing the loss of summer ice in the Arctic, I said we may be, but we shouldn’t use that as a reason to stand by as the jet stream continues to lash the planet and as the Gulf Stream, responsible for keeping Europe temperate.
We can’t do everything the world needs, but the world needs everything we can do.
Colorado has been blessed with probably the least impact of climate change, but eventually it will catch up with us. Meanwhile, we watch, stunned, not only by the tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires and flooding in other sections of the country, but also by the failure of the major networks to mention climate change as the culprit and to point out that it will only get worse over time.
Over 5 years ago, in 2014, the headline on my column was “We May Have Already Passed the Tipping Point on Climate Change.” Here is what I wrote back then:
Each January, political leaders shower us with speeches on the State of the Union, the State, the City and other jurisdictions. No one presents a State of the Planet speech, but if someone did, I suspect climate change would be topic #1 — and for good reason.
My friend and mentor, Steve Stevens, sent me a chart (below) showing the decline in late summer Arctic sea ice. It’s a wake-up call regarding climate change.
I don’t have a degree in science, but I do understand science enough to know this chart’s significance.
If you studied any science — or own an automobile — you know that white surfaces reflect solar heat, whereas dark surfaces (open ocean, for example) absorb it. The loss of sea ice does not just indicate global warming, it accelerates it, which makes one worry whether it’s already too late to reverse the effects of human-caused global warming.
Climate change deniers may celebrate the fact that the Arctic Ocean is becoming increasingly navigable in the summer, but they need to connect the dots between global warming and the whipsawing we now see in our day-to-day weather.
I’d be curious to see the statistics on how many times the network news programs featured severe weather reports in 2013 versus previous years. I can’t remember an evening in which weather wasn’t a major or lead story.
Our earth’s climate has been de-stabilized. Had you heard of the polar vortex before this year? I hadn’t. The uninformed will say that our cold weather proves that the earth is not warming, but how naïve is that? It’s global warming that is causing extremes, both of temperature and precipitation — which is caused by warming. I don’t hear them questioning El Nino, in which natural changes in ocean temperature affect climate.
Is there time to reverse this situation? Maybe not. But we certainly don’t have time to debate its existence with climate change deniers.
[End of my 2014 column]
Night after night, we see news reports of unprecedented severe weather around the country, but rarely is the connection to climate change mentioned. Our president’s failure to address climate change may be part of his legacy.