Editorial: It’s Getting Hot in Here
Last week in the North Carolina heartlands the sun shone brightly and the air smelled sweet; dried out lawns took rejuvenating gulps of sunshine and warmth and we all got to turn our heaters off, if only for a few days.
The problem, of course, is that it’s the middle of December – even here in the South we should at least be wearing jackets while we get in gear for the holidays. And while the weather is extremely pleasant, it’s also deeply unsettling for those who heed well the harbingers of imminent doom.
Maybe that sounds a little dramatic, but it’s established fact that, to paraphrase Nelly, it’s getting hot in here.
We are well aware of the small but insistent circle of vocal skeptics of the phenomenon that has recently been renamed “climate change,” but those of us who live in the “reality-based” community have no choice but to look at the quantifiable facts. The world’s glaciers and polar ice caps are melting like they’ve been doused with scotch. The Upsala Glacier in Argentina, famously featured in An Inconvenient Truth, is receding by no less than 180 feet a year. Norway’s Svalbard Archipelago is experiencing its highest temperatures since the Vikings sailed in its waters 800 years ago. In 2005 an island previously thought to be a peninsula was revealed as glaciers melted away.
In the Arctic , where the atmospheric C02 concentration has increased 35 percent since the Industrial Revolution, according to the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, temperatures have dropped from four to seven degrees in the last 50 years, and polar bears, walruses and some seals face extinction as their habitats melt away.
The weather is off. Last week Tropical Storm Olga, the 14th named weather pattern of 2007, formed off the coast of the Dominican Republic though the Atlantic hurricane season has been over for two weeks.
And, of course, it’s 80 degrees in the upper South in the middle of December.
Is the sky falling? We don’t know. But archaeological evidence shows that whenever the earth undergoes a period of rapid climate change, the results usually aren’t pretty.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last week issued an inconvenient truth of its own: After a 16-month investigation into allegations of political interference with the findings of US government scientists, they found “a systematic White House effort to censor climate scientists” that included “stifling discussions of the link between increased hurricane intensity and global warming” and “minimiz[ing] the significance and certainty of climate change by extensively editing government climate change reports.”
Bush loyalists are already scurrying to cast doubt on these findings, but the accusations are in line with others leveled at this administration that include deflating injury reports and death toll in Iraq by juggling accounting criteria and an accusation by former Surgeon General Richard Carmona of interference by the Bush administration on scientific findings about contraception and stem-cell research.
But global warming is perhaps the most universal issue of them all, seeing as we all live on the same globe, and it’s hard to rationalize why these skeptics continue to deny science and refuse to believe what the rest of us can see and feel for ourselves.
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