Unfortunately, scientists, who were roundly criticized by politicians who openly admitted they were not scientists, warned us from day one that there was more to it. Incidentally, day one was several decades ago if it were a day.
As temperatures rose, they advised us, ice would melt, seas would rise, weather patterns would change, and in the case of the Artic, sea lanes would open up and the long-sought after Northwest Passage would finally present itself—just when we didn’t need it. Natural occurrences like hurricanes, tornados and typhoons would occur more frequently and be more destructive.
It was all hyperbole, critics claimed. Politicians told us scientists were just trying to scare us. I’ll tell you what isn’t hyperbole. The number of politicians trying to scare us to promote their own agendas, which makes their criticism of scientists, sheer hypocrisy.
So, I have these two images competing for my mind’s attention right now.
Houston, submerged under two feet of rainwater, after four days of continual rain. This storm was larger and more horrific than those of the past because the Gulf of Mexico is a few degrees warmer than in the past—something scientists warned us about.
Then there is Senator Jim Inhofe, Republican from Oklahoma, standing on the Senate floor holding a snowball, not so much to denounce as to ridicule climate scientists.
That’s like saying, “Gravity, what gravity? Don’t you see that plane flying overhead?” The fact is, winters and the resulting precipitation are changing drastically from the patterns we had become accustomed to—again something climate scientists predicted.
When Senator Inhofe’s vaudeville act was over, he tossed the snowball to a colleague, but an aide caught it instead. Every time I see this clip, I wonder why the aide didn’t throw it back. You don’t have to be an expert on winter to know that’s what you do when someone throws a snowball at you.
Obviously, people unaware of snowball etiquette are simply going to have to adjust—just as people unaccustomed to four feet of water in their living rooms are going to have to adjust to these changing times.
Because the times—just as Bob Dylan and climate scientists have predicted—are changing.
Climate is changing. Weather is changing. The debate over whether these changes are man-made will continue as scientists provide more convincing data and non-scientist politicians come up with even more creative props.
As for the rest of us, we should be saying what the good folks of Houston might be saying.
“We don’t care who’s responsible—just do something about it.”
They might have a point.
A push toward cleaner energy might not help, but it certainly won’t hurt. A push for energy efficient vehicles and appliances might not help, but it certainly can’t hurt. A push to break away from our fossil fuel dependency, fueled by an almost fanatical dependency on plastic might not help, but it certainly won’t hurt.
Looking to the future is certainly better than looking back to the past. This is what enlightened men have always done.
The dams surrounding Houston, which failed to various degrees—just as the levees surrounding New Orleans failed during Katrina—are part of America’s infrastructure.
That’s right. Infrastructure is not just a word thrown around during political debates. It is real things—roads, bridges, dams, sea-walls, levees, subways, runways and the electric grid among other things. What isn’t infrastructure is a Mexican border wall.
Instead of keeping immigrants out, or sending the ones who are here back, we should be bringing them in to work on massive building projects that aren’t towers, casinos and sports arenas. Yes, there is enough work to go around, yes, there is enough money to pay for it, and yes, this is real.
Houston is not an isolated case. It sits between a massive gulf of water and a massive amount of flatland. Miami and Fort Lauderdale sit between the Atlantic Ocean and the already saturated Everglades. Norfolk, Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago and dozen more coastal and water-bordering cities are at risk.
There is work to be done everywhere.
Is it man’s fault? Dinosaurs would have loved the luxury of being able to debate the arrival of a life-destroying asteroid—maybe blame a tyreneronussauris rex, who no one liked anyway, but when it was barreling towards them, it didn’t matter. They just wished they could have done something about it.
We can do something about our current situation. We can accept the idea that we may be at fault and stop doing what we’re doing, fix the things we can fix, and stop pretending we know more than the experts.
One more thing. Any time some buffoon throws a snowball at you, throw it back.