Usually, one would say to just get out of the kitchen. But if the figurative kitchen in this situation is earth, you just kind of have to sit and take it. Global warming, up until now, has largely been a theoretical exercise wherein I debated its merits with my father, who thinks the entire thing is a hoax cooked up by guilty white liberals who have nothing better to do. Granted, he worked as a PR flack for a coal burning power plant, so his position should be taken with a grain of salt, but everyone’s entitled to their own positions (no matter how out there they may be).
But, global warming has been moving from the domain of the theoretical in the recent past to what you find on weather.com. When you have a few years running of unusual weather patterns, it’s no longer theoretical, it’s the present. And meteorologists say that this is the tip of the iceberg: the weather we’ve seen over the past two years is what the foreseeable future holds for us.
There’s empirical evidence that weather everywhere is becoming more extreme. Every year, more records are set, be they highs or lows, both in terms of temperatures and precipitation. Just this past week, a very rare wind storm called a ‘derecho’* tore its way from Chicago through Washington, killing 20 people and leaving millions without powers for days. It snowed almost a half foot in New York last October, and in Michigan hardly at all this past winter. The weather is changing, it’s changing because of manmade factors, and no matter what we do, even if we cease emitting carbon into the atmosphere today in totality, we’d still have to live with the effects of climate change, I would imagine, for at least a century.
Climate change has the potential to dwarf every single other challenge humankind faces. The scope and effect of the problem is so broad and encompasses so many various facets that it could define our lives far, far more than we realize it for the next few centuries. And for those people out there who still think that it’s still debatable as to whether or not mankind has caused climate change, those cranks belong in the same boat as the people who deny the Holocaust happened or deny that there’s a link between HIV and AIDS. These people are denialists, and their position ought to be treated with the contempt it so patently deserves.
*Spanish for ‘right.’