Climate Change: Extreme Weather and Wildfires
In 1998, the US refused to ratify the Kyoto Treat which would have limited the release of greenhouse gases, primarily CO2, into the atmosphere. The refusal was based mainly on the highly inflated financial costs, without adequately considering the costs of inaction. On a per capita basis the US emits six times as much CO2 as any other country. Without our participation and leadership, the world has failed to stem the release of CO2 into the air, and scientists tell us that this is leading to a warmer Earth, more extreme weather, crop failure, droughts, and wildfires. We have certainly experienced many of those things recently and it should make us think about what our failure to ratify the Kyoto Treaty may mean to us.
Three weeks ago the local Cleveland American’s front-page story was about the heat wave and the drought. Channel 6 Weather reported that this year Oklahoma set a record for highest temperatures of any state, ever. Recently, NASA reported this has been the hottest decade since records began in 1880, with 2010 and 2005 tied for the hottest years. A recent poll of climate scientists found that 97% of those active in research agree that the Earth is getting warmer and the main factor is man’s release of carbon dioxide into the air. The other 3% of the scientists get enough publicity to keep the public confused, especially since the climate scientists cannot claim certainty in their predictions, but only increased chances.
A recent paper from the University of Colorado predicted that global warming would cause higher probabilities of extreme weather, heat waves, droughts, crop failure, and wildfires. We’ve certainly seen all that happen this year. Last week, the Cleveland American’s front page story was on the devastating wildfires in the surrounding Pawnee County. Around 15,000 acres of our county burned, 40 homes when up in flames, one person died, and many were injured. It stretched the resources of our emergency services to the limit and had it not been for the heroic efforts of our firefighters, many of them volunteers, the devastation would have been much worse.
Skeptical scientists, and many of our politicians, dispute the scientific evidence and claim there is not really a problem. They say that efforts to stop global warming will cause us too much inconvenience and expense. We might want to think about how inconvenient and expensive it is for us to lose our crops, homes, and in some cases our loved ones?