Monday, April 23, 2012

Denial Is Not A River

While you may have missed it yesterday, since virtually none of the major U.S. or World news organizations gave the story anything other than brief mention, Sunday was Earth Day, for 2012.

For forty two years, Earth Day has been a day for many outside of the scientific and politic realms to also stand up, get involved, and take a serious, fact-based look at what mankind has done, and continues to do, to our planet. The science pointing toward climate change is far older than that, going back over a hundred years.

Still, climate change deniers continue to yell that climate change is a hoax, even as the facts add up against them - including things like cold weather animals and plants adapting to warmer weather to survive. Frankly, we'd love to see a polar bear move into their neighborhoods, if we thought it might awaken them to reality.

One of the most important facts is the difference between climate and weather.

Long and short, climate is the average trend of all the weather data, in a specific location, over a long period of time. That location can be as big as the Earth, or as small as your neighborhood. In contrast, weather is simply the atmospheric factors that are or have happened at any one point in the climate record.

There are those people who claim that the current trend of warmer and wetter than usual weather is just a normal adjustment in the natural shifting of the world climate - and those people would be wrong.

Climate scientists have done enough modeling to understand long-term trends in very accurate ways. They've done millions of computer simulations, with climate data from all over the world, taking into account all the actions that mankind has done to the environment over the last 100-150 years. The simulations keep saying the same things: without the heavy influence of mankind, the climate of the world could not have changed as fast as it has, in as short a time as it has. Period.

We're well aware that Earth Day was started by former Democratic Wisconsin Governor and U.S. Senator, Gaylord Nelson. For many modern Republicans, this automatically puts them on the other side side of the issue, because they seem to think they need to always be on the opposite side of anything anyone in the Democratic Party does. To us, that's a stupid idea.

Climate change is very real, and it is already highly likely to affect things - drastically - like the price of corn, and to drive new technologies, especially with renewable energy sources. That will mean the renewable energy sector will need some help from governments all over the world - including ours. It also means that when governments make investments in private exploratory research companies, and the market makes drastic turns - as it did with the Solyndra company - taxpayers will lose those bets once in a while.

Of course, what's rarely mentioned when right-wingers bring up Solyndra is that it was less than 2% of the U.S. government's investment in clean energy projects. The others were all successful - and in fact, the U.S. solar industry grew 69% during the time Solyndra was in existence.

Even nations like Mexico are now acknowledging that climate change is real, and their governments MUST do something about it. President Obama has done what he can, without Congress' assistance, by raising fuel efficiency standards and promoting climate change and renewable energy bills. Republicans in Congress, unsurprisingly, have not only killed the President's proposals, but also tried to stifle clean energy committees. The Republicans have even killed bills to reduce completely unnecessary subsidies to energy polluters like big oil and big coal.

Even if climate change wasn't real, the further development of clean, renewable, energy will benefit every American, as we can decrease or eliminate our dependence on oil purchased from the Middle East and South America. That's something we think even most climate change deniers could agree on.

We won't hold our breath it will change the minds of the deniers, though.

Maybe we'll just have to wait for their friendly neighborhood polar bear to bite them in the backside, before they wake up and realize the truth about climate change.

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