Friday, March 23, 2012

Hot Enough for You?

'Is it hot in here or is it me?'
Before I get too many smirks from you about being middle-aged (and then some) here's something to chew on:
The recent March heatwave that's swept Chicago and much of the country in the past week  has caused quite a buzz among even non-scientists and others concerned about global warming. While I admit to enjoying the unseasonably warm weather and getting an early start on the yardwork, it is cause for concern.
What will the summer be like? Some fear it will be hotter than usual; other weather forecasters say there's no way to predict, at least this early in the game.  
Of more concern are the crazy weather patterns of late throughout the country. Snow in Arizona. Areas of the country, such as California, normally warm at this time of year, have checked in at 15-20 degrees cooler than the 80's here in northern Illinois. Floods. Drought. Fires. Hurricanes and tornadoes of ever-increasing strength and frequency.
If the global warming folks are right - and the weather seems to bear that out - then we can expect more of the same, and it will probably get worse over time.
You and I are contemplating pricetags on electric cars or hybrids, as well as making our homes energy-efficient, recycling, reusing and reducing even as  the petroleum and energy industry lobbyists are working fast and furiously at the behest of the polluters. The oil, gas and coal industries continue to pay huge sums to deep-six any extension or enforcement of legislation aimed at putting the brakes on the polluters.
Among the siren calls of the energy industries is the inducement of jobs creation, such as ballyhooed by the Tar Sands project advocates. While on ice for now, the project, like zombies in a graveyard, threatens to be resurrected and reintroduced, with the potential to cause untold harm to water resources, farmland and the populations living around them.
As Dr. Jeff Masters dubs it in 'The New Normal? Extreme Weather and Climate' article on the Sierra Club's website,  "Global Weirding" may indeed be the New Normal, the inevitable result of decades of pollutants producing CO2 and other gasses that trap heat and affect weather patterns around the globe.
The Sierra Club offers not only information but ways to fight back, including buying shares in 'green' companies, as well as organizing house parties, joining the Mobile Action Network,  and participating in campaigns, such as the current 'So Sue Me!' which protests the actions of Shell Oil in drilling in the Arctic at the expense of polar bears and other wildlife.
I have seen videos of polar bears helplessly paddling for miles, trying unsuccessfully to find an ice floe to rest on before succumbing to fatigue and drowning, as well as the sight of aerial photographs clearly showing shrinkage of the polar ice caps. I remember all too well the sight of dying, mucky oil-covered birds and other animals from the Exxon Valdez spill over 20 years ago. More recently, there was the damage of many hundreds of acres of Gulf coast shoreline, and the tragic loss of lives, of the BP oil rig disaster.
LIke it or not, the hot winds of climate change are blowing harder than ever - and we're all in harm's way. The window of time to slow, if not stop, the damage is shrinking, but it can be done. Whether we will muster the resolve to do so remains to be seen.