A few days of mild temperatures and snow flurries are upon us once again. The Farmers’ Almanac indicated this was going to be a severe winter and it was spot on correct.
Kentucky has been a solid blanket of snow since January, and we haven’t remotely been getting the worst of it this winter. That distinction belongs to the Midwest and New England. Both have been getting pounded continuously with record low temperatures and significant snow accumulation.
Meanwhile, California is experiencing its driest year since becoming a state in 1850. On average, the Golden State receives about 22 inches of rain normally over a year, one of the lowest averages in the U.S., but in 2013 only 7.38 inches fell. While several months of winter remain, the Sierra Nevada snow pack, which serves as a vital water source for the region, is at just 20 percent of its average accumulation.
The result is being termed a mega-drought. Across California, there are 17 communities that have been identified as potentially running out of water altogether over the next two to four months. A drought emergency has been called by California Gov. Jerry Brown, and residents have been asked to reduce water usage by 20 percent.
It’s beginning to become apparent that these sorts of abnormalities are the new normal. The biggest problem is people don’t want to take personal responsibility for the environment.
“This is not an if, it’s now,” said Dr. Diana Horton, Professor Emeritus, Dept. of Biology at the University of Iowa, about the reality of climate change impacting the here and now.
“North Americans are a horribly spoiled bunch,” said Dr. Horton. “We must make sacrifices…now.”
Life is busy these days. The Internet Age has only accelerated the global pace of life. Between family and work, precious little time is left over to contemplate something as big picture as climate change.
This leaves us all in a holding pattern, waiting for something more destructive to come along that will be impossible to overlook. Minus that catastrophic event people refuse to change their ways much.
We’ve already seen very unusual and unpredictable weather, and specialists in the field believe that an extreme intensification in all weather-related events is anticipated going forward.
“Katrina was like the first bombing of the World Trade Center (02-26-93), a wake up call, but people are snoozing,” said Dr. Horton. “Ramp this up and what if people have to leave coastal areas?”
Estimates look at potentially having to move three-fourths of the world’s population if the melting of ice caps can’t be held in abeyance. And that is if they can even be controlled by human action to remain frozen at this point.
There is no exact date that something is going to happen, but it has already begun, and changes are metastasizing faster than anticipated.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its Fifth Assessment Report on September 27, 2013, offering incontrovertible evidence that burning fossil fuels is the cause of most of the temperature increases of recent decades, and warn that sea levels could rise by almost three feet by the end of the century if we don’t change our ways.
While the U.S. population as a whole is moving toward the reality of climate change, Congress remains like a deer caught in headlights. These are not stupid people, but they must run for re-election, and that is expensive, so without the urgency of public insistence, they technically are remaining loyal to their financial benefactors who make money off polluting and keeping things the way they are.
Almost one-third of the 535 members of the House and Senate are on record as climate deniers, according to a recent study by the Center for American Progress. Coincidentally, those 161 reps have taken more than $54 million in political contributions from the fossil-fuel industry.
Token concessions, like hybrid cars, are just lip service to make us feel better and appear more conscious. Coal driven electricity is just as bad as gas, and is a horrific polluter of Greenhouse gases.
Hybrids only allow us to mask the true problem, more people need to drive less.
In places like Iowa, which many consider is only suited to fly over on the way to other destinations, in reality is a key state in maintaining the country’s food chain. The Hawkeye State has a fragile eco-environment, where even a slight temperature change could render the rich topsoil unable to grow crops or allow livestock to be sustained.
The other scenario that could play out in the Midwest is that coastal regions of North America begin evacuating due to rising sea levels, and states that previously were full of expansive farmland, like Iowa, will become destination locations.
None of these states have the infrastructure to support such a migration.
One thing that is known for sure is that the adjustments surrounding less available fossil fuels will pale in comparison to what will occur when fresh drinking water becomes scarce.
Wars might be fought over the remaining fossil fuel reserves, or because countries like China and India refuse to decrease their pollution emissions, but global conflict will certainly be waged over access to clean drinking water, because without water life stops.
In all likelihood it will require legislation to force people to comply with energy conservation levels necessary to make a difference, but that takes leadership, and the U.S. political structure remains bought and sold by big business and Wall Street.
Admittedly changing old habits of energy consumption is no small undertaking. It will impact everyone, and change the way lives are lived, but we all have a responsibility to this planet. Better to start making these changes now, before some global disaster impacts the country and forces them all at once.