Now Do You Believe in Global Warming?
Back in February of 2010, Senator James
Inhofe's grandchildren built an igloo for Al Gore. Inhofe is an Oklahoma
Republican and the most skeptical of Congressional climate deniers;
he's the one who called global warming "the greatest hoax ever
perpetrated on the American people." The 2010 winter was one of the
snowiest in recent memory — including a massive blizzard that February
that became known as "Snowmageddon" — which skeptics like Inhofe happily
used as evidence that man-made climate change didn't really exist. So
Inhofe's daughter, son-in-law and four grandchildren built a snowpacked
igloo in Washington after one major storm, and stuck a sign on it: "Al
Gore's New Home."
Fast-forward a year and a half. The weather in Washington is
extreme again, but this time it's brutally hot, with the city in early
July setting a record for the most consecutive 95 F plus days in a row —
ten of them lined in a hyperthermic murderer's row. And the heat isn't
confined to the nation's capital; over the past few weeks, just about
every part of the country except for the Pacific Northwest has
experienced unusually high temperatures. The national weather map looks
like a U.S.-shaped burn mark. To environmentalists, the summer of 2012
is climate change in action — which led the green group 350.org to plan
an ice-based stunt of their own. Activists were going to build an ice
sculpture of the word "HOAX?" on July 7 in front of Capitol Hill, then
let it melt in Washington's triple-digit heat.
In the end, 350.org decided not to go ahead with the
ice-melting event. (The group's executive director Bill McKibben
ultimately worried that the protest would be seen as insensitive given
the very real human toll of the heat wave.) But HOAX in ice and Al
Gore's igloo both underscore the way that the weather, more than
anything else, drives our belief in climate change — and our uneven
commitment to doing something about it. After the exceedingly mild
winter just past and a warm spring that started early, one Yale
University study found that 66% of Americans said they believe in
climate change, up from 57% in January 2010 — right in the middle of
that snowy winter. If we check in with the American public after another
snowmageddon, expect the figure to fall again.
But it's a mistake to look at climate change only through the
lens of public opinion polls, because what's happening right now in the
U.S. really is out of the ordinary — assuming that ordinary still
applies. More than 2 million acres have been burned in massive wildfires
in much of the West, more than 110 million people were living under
extreme heat advisories at the end of June and more than two-thirds of
the country is experiencing drought. Last month, 3,215 daily high
temperature records were set nationwide — and that's nothing compared to
the 15,000 set in March. The 12 months ending in May were the warmest
12 continuous months on record in the U.S. "What we see now is what
global warming really looks like," says Michael Oppenheimer, a climate
expert and a professor at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School.
"The heat, the fires, these kinds of environmental disasters."
This isn't to say that climate change is directly causing the extreme
heat that's been suffocating much of the U.S. this summer.
Fingerprinting a single extreme weather event as evidence of global
warming — be it a heat wave, a major storm, a drought or a flood — take
years of intensive study, though researchers are beginning to make those
connections. A 2011 study in Nature made waves by linking rising
instances of extreme precipitation in the second half of the 20th
century to man-made global warming — the kind of large-scale survey that
needs to be done to make the climate change case authoritatively. The
sheer number of factors that influence individual weather events is
immense. But we do have a pretty good idea of what climate change will
look like in the years to come — if it continues uninterrupted — and it
will look a lot like this summer, this spring and this winter. "The
frequency of hot days and hot periods has already increased and will
increase further," says Oppenheimer. "What we're seeing fits into the
pattern you would expect."
Here's what we should take away from the heat: climate change is
real and it's happening now. We can disagree about how to handle it, and
how much those policies might cost, but it's long past time to
surrender to the science. Perhaps this year of extreme heat will help
shake loose the forces blocking climate change action, though judging
from the near-complete absence of global warming as an issue on the
Presidential campaign trail, that hasn't happened yet. It had better
happen soon. We're living in an igloo in the summertime, and the ice is
melting all around us. Time to face facts.
Read more: http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2119129,00.htm...
I have believed in Global Warming for a very long time and
still do not understand those who don't believe. Do you
believe this is happening now? If you don't please explain
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