Environment: Climate now a hot topic

by Judy Ferro

Weather has been a hot topic this spring.

Fourteen states are suffering from drought. California is fighting to curtail water use and keep the liquid flowing to farms that provide produce for tables across America. About 5,000 residents have no running water in their homes becomes their wells ran dry. Some homeowners joke about “grassicide”—and others weep–as they rip out lush, green lawns that they’ve tended for years.

This year nine of fifteen Idaho river basins hold less than 50% of their normal water; the Owyhee Basin is down to 14%. As a result, farmers in many areas are planting fewer onions and sugar beets, which have been major revenue generators.

Alaska is heating up as never before with May temperatures reaching 86F in Fairbanks and 91F in Eagle. Melting snow created floods that cut off roads, oil fields, and an airport. Now, with most of the snow gone, the darker ground is will absorb more heat as the summer progresses. Similarly, less ice and more open water will lead to further warming of the seas.

Increased evaporation left a lot of water in the atmosphere. Unfortunately, nature an overgenerous share of rain to Texas and Oklahoma. Memorial weekend storms dumped ten inches of rain on some cities in a matter of hours. After cars, and even homes, were swept away, rescuers searched for bodies, as Texas Governor Greg Abbott declared flood damage stretched “from the Red River to the Rio Grande.” He named 46 of the state’s 254 counties as disaster areas.

The first four months of 2015 were the hottest ever recorded for our globe so calamities were not limited to the U.S. A weak monsoon season and overheated air in India produced temperatures of 120 F. Those without air conditioning suffered; the death toll from the heat wave has topped 1,800.

After averaging 4.6 Category 5 storms annually for 25 years, the Earth has already suffered its fifth this year. The height of the storm season is still ahead–July to November.

Climatologists attribute this year’s weather extremes to a combination of a “stuck” Jet Stream driving warm air northward, a strengthening El Nino, and global warming.

`               It’s crazy to me, but, apparently, that’s a very political statement.

Bill Nye, the “science guy,” tweeted–“Billion$$ in damage in Texas & Oklahoma. Still no weather-caster may utter the phrase Climate Change”—and set off an Internet debate.

Pope Francis announced he would present an encyclical on ecology in time for scientists to study it before a November climate change negotiations.  Rick Santorium responded by stating that we’re “better off leaving science to the scientists.”

Strange interchange considering that Santorium, not the Pope, disagrees with the scientists.  The Pope previously taught college chemistry which, perhaps, qualified him as part of the scientific community.

A recent poll by Dan Jones and Associates leaves no doubt that climate change is a hot political issue in Idaho. Responses indicate that 84% of Democrats believe that climate warming is a global crisis and that barely 20% of Republicans do. Political independents are truly in the middle with 50% believing climatic warming is a crisis.

Republicans apparently believe that a worldwide conspiracy of liberals and scientists have brainwashed Democrats. A compliment, really. If we were only as good at convincing others that workers deserve decent wages and that spending on education and infrastructure are wise investments.

Just how bad do the storms, flooding, and heat waves have to get before Republicans listen? Will they ignore extreme weather events until they are the ones suffering?

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