The simple answer to this question is, yes, it is changing. Every day is different, and even small changes add up over time to produce average overall changes. Some parts of the U.S. are hotter, and oddly enough, some parts are cooler. The short-term weather, which is not to be confused with the climate, which is long-term, is highly variable. Have you ever paid attention to the “record highs” and “record lows” on a day when you’re watching your local weather? If so, you may have been impressed by the variability. The weather-person may say something along the lines of: “The record high for this date was set back in 1948, when the high was 80 degrees. The record low was set in 1950 when it got down to 27.” If you follow along with that, you’ll notice some wild swings in the weather that did not indicate that the world was about to come to an end. (I’ll be glad when it’s 2013, and people stop fretting about 2012.)
At any rate, with all of the really bad, really severe, weather we’re having this year, it’s easy to think that something must be wrong! It must be caused by “climate change” or “global warming.” Worse yet, we must be causing it! We have to stop doing what we’re doing before it’s too late!
The National Geographic Channel has been showing a series on Egypt entitled “Egypt Unwrapped:…” covering various aspects of ancient Egyptian culture. It’s an interesting series. This week, the program outlined in detail the events leading up to the demise of the Old Kingdom pyramid builders. It seems there is extremely strong scientific evidence, based on field research in Egypt and other parts of our planet, that shows there was a horrendous drought in Egypt over 4,000 years ago, and that particular drought lasted for about ten years. Climate change!
Do you see my point? Climate is not a constant. It varies over time for a variety of reasons. We’ve had big ice ages and little ice ages. We’ve had warm periods and wet periods, and so on. The Sahara Desert was once green and supported lots of different flora and fauna. Keep in mind that the Sahara became a gigantic desert before cars and coal-fired power plants.
Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that we human beings, seeing as how there are so darned many of us now, and how we have this propensity for burning things to produce energy, let’s just say that we’re causing the planet to get warmer. Let’s agree for a minute that it’s all our fault.
Now let’s imagine that all of the governments on the planet get together and agree not to burn coal or natural gas, or any other CO2 producing fuel to produce electricity. Also, we would not drill for oil any more, and we would not refine petroleum into gasoline or any other fuel. No jet fuel. No diesel. Nothing. We’ve stopped. That’s it. We’re not going to burn anything to produce energy.
Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Civilization would collapse. We just can’t do it, at least not yet. Maybe one day we’ll have solar powered cars and homes, supplemented by wind power and whatever else we can dream up, but for now, we’ve got to burn stuff. It’s the best we can do at the moment. Solar cells are so expensive that only wealthy people can afford to have them. Wouldn’t that cause a great outcry if only the rich could have electricity? There would be a revolt.
If we’re really interested in climate change and a warming climate, and if we even have a suspicion that we humans are causing it, we need to get behind research into a better way of doing things. Cheaper solar energy. Solar-powered cars. A wind turbine on every home. Whatever.
In the meantime, we need to find ways to live with what we’ve got. Whether we caused it, or Mother Nature’s natural permutations caused it, we seem to be living in a changing world. We ourselves need to change and adapt to survive.
My thinking is this: When a flood wipes out an area of homes, rebuild those homes on stilts, high off the ground. People have been doing that for years in flood-prone areas. When tornadoes blow through a town, rebuild the homes and businesses with a storm shelter in the ground. Build stronger homes in hurricane-prone areas. There are ways to attach a roof to keep it on the house in high winds. There is hurricane-proof glass, etc.
We can’t keep doing the same old things we’ve always done, or we’ll have the same old results. We need to think and plan ahead. Do you think we have the foresight, determination, and leadership to do this? I wonder… It will cost money, but if we’re not better prepared, it will cost even more in property losses and lost lives.