Thursday, July 26, 2012

Fire-Breathing & Facts

For much of the summer, especially in our original home office location in Lincoln, we've been desperately wishing for rain and more seasonal temperatures. The storms that tiptoed through the Lincoln area on Wednesday evening were not even noticed in an otherwise insanely hot summer.

Feeling like we're getting blasted with dragon's breath every time we step outside - even at night - has tested far more than just our patience. Don't even ask about the electric and water bill for most Midwesterners this summer.

What some of our most arrogant right-wing Kool Aid swilling subscribers have been asking about - maybe because they have difficulties clicking links and reading in the first place - is exactly where the numbers are coming from to prove climate change is real.

Thankfully, multiple professional writers and researchers have been kept inside in the air conditioning this summer, with computers, data - and a lot of time.

To start with, the U.S. is experiencing the worst drought in 50 years as confirmed by the publicly available records used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That's the first fact.

The next set of facts was laid out by author, journalist, and environmentalist Bill McKibben in the first paragraph of his recent article in Rolling Stone magazine. McKibben's numbers can also be checked through the National Climatic Data Center's website, for those who doubt their accuracy.

As McKibben noted, "June broke or tied 3,215 high-temperature records across the United States. That followed the warmest May on record for the Northern Hemisphere – the 327th consecutive month in which the temperature of the entire globe exceeded the 20th-century average, the odds of which occurring by simple chance were 3.7 x 10-99, a number considerably larger than the number of stars in the universe."

Weather is local, as we've noted before. Climate, however, is the aggregated collection of weather data from multiple adjoining locations, looked at over a broad spectrum in time.

When a reasonable person, looks at the collection of just these few facts that we've laid out here, they would likely notice something key. Even though weather patterns change over time, and even though North America has had severe droughts like this - or worse - in the past, the rate our climate is changing in North America has never happened this fast before.


That is climate change.

However, just because climate change is real doesn't mean we're all doomed to die as Earth turns into one giant crispy crater. It does mean we need to get moving on alternative energies, water conservation, food crisis management and all kinds of other fact-based strategies to plan for the future. And we need to do it yesterday.

So when an ignorant fool, drunk on the latest mental Kool Aid from Fox or their favorite barely educated right-wing radio blowhard tells you that this drought thing will blow over soon, just think of having another thirty summers in the future like this one.

Then feel free to take these facts, aim them at the fool, and fry their brains, just like dragon breath.

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