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The Horrors Of Climate Change

By James Donahue

Extreme heat with record setting temperatures soaring at over 100 degrees Fahrenheit along the eastern coast and mid-section of the United States and throughout Europe, the influx of  the tropical mosquito borne disease dungy fever in Florida, severe storms bearing tornadoes marching across America’s Midwest, and flash floods all over the world. Like it or not, global warming – alias climate change is upon us.

We have seen all of this in past years, but never all of it at the same time. Can anyone still deny that global warming/climate change is not something we should be concerned about? Can there be any real scientists willing to stand up and publically scoff at the fact that the temperature of Planet Earth has been rising steadily since 1970.

The planet has warmed 0.09 degrees Celsius since 1880, according to NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Science, with .05 degrees of warming occurring since 1980, according to researcher James Hansen.

The National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, North Carolina, reports that the Earth’s temperature from January to March, 2009, was the eighth warmest on record, with a global temperature of 55.04 degrees. This marks almost a full degree over the Twentieth Century average of 54.1 degrees.

This may not sound very significant, but in the overall average, an increase of only one or two degrees has more of an impact on our world, its weather, and the way we live than you might think.

Hansen said the planet is within one degree Celsius of the maximum temperature experienced on Earth in the past million years. “That means that further global warming of one degree Celsius defines a critical level,” he said.

If the warming rises to two or three degrees Celsius, the Earth will become a very different planet than the one we have known. The warmer temperatures already are forcing an odd migration of plants and animals from the tropics north and southward toward the poles, and the warming of the seas is setting the stage for extreme cyclonic storms that will be buffeting the coastlines of the continents.

The weather changes are bringing extreme rains in some areas, and causing terrible droughts in other regions. While the media has been strangely silent about it, extreme flash flooding has been occurring in nearly every country in the world this year. Millions of people are losing their homes and many are dying in disasters stretching from Peru north to Mexico, the United States and Canada, and around the world to Europe, India, and China.

The melting of the ice caps at the North and South Poles, and of glaciers throughout the world, will intensify the warming trend and cause even more warming of the oceans. Warmer water means faster evaporation, more humidity in the air, and consequently heavier rainfall and/or snowfall with each storm.

The thawing permafrost will release a massive amount of stored carbon dioxide and other gasses long locked in the muck with the frozen vegetation and animals. This will add to the carbon dioxide already being spewed into the atmosphere by the coal, gasoline and other carbon-fired factories, home heating systems, aircraft, ships and automobiles in an overpopulated world. The additional carbon dioxide will be even more greenhouse gas that is making our planet even hotter.

Yet another feasible result of the warming oceans could be large bubbles of escaping methane gas from pockets deep under the seabed. Some geologists have expressed concern that deepwater oil drilling, which opens holes in the ocean floor for not only oil but methane, may someday trigger a major “doomsday” gas eruption. Some have worried that the British Petroleum disaster in the Gulf of Mexico may have created just such a fissure, which may yet develop into a disaster so massive it may threaten all life in and around the gulf coast, if not worse. They believe giant methane explosions may have happened in the distant past.

As the temperatures rise, living conditions will get worse. Winters could be extreme. Summer heat waves and storms will be deadly. People will migrate north to escape the heat, pests and tropical diseases like dengue fever and malaria.

Eventually the world will become too hot to support life as we know it. This is the consequence of allowing our leaders to listen to corporate powers seeking profit over everything else. This is the consequence of allowing our leaders to bury their heads in the sand and refuse to do anything about this dangerous threat.

There may not be a more important issue facing the world today than dealing with global warming/climate change. Yet elected lawmakers in Washington, where they work in cool air-conditioned offices and are ignoring the triple digit temperatures swirling around them, appear to be incapable of recognizing the reality of what is happening and unwilling to do anything about it.

A proposed but watered-down energy bill that would put limits on greenhouse gas emissions and establish a national renewable energy policy has been kicked around in both the House and Senate, without anyone moving with serious intent on getting such a bill finished, approved and sent on to the president’s office for his signature.

Why is this? We believe big electric companies, automobile makers, aircraft manufacturers, the coal and oil industries are all opposed to controls on carbon emissions. Such legislation would force the nation to turn to alternative energy sources and force carbon burning factories and vehicles to install costly scrubbers on their exhaust stacks. Big business is telling our legislators what to do and how to vote.

Refusing to act to stave off the accelerating disaster occurring before our eyes is the worst thing the human race can do. It still may not be too late. But if we don’t act soon, extinction may be just around the corner. It is that serious.