It is kind of hard to ignore more and stronger hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, massive wildfires on the West Coast and the connection to global warming, but the flat denial that global warming is occurring flies in the face of science and reality.
President Trump and his most avid supporters — exemplified by Rush Limbaugh — do that very thing at the peril of cities on the Gulf Coast and in California, Oregon and Washington states. President Trump stated in his visit to California that things would get much cooler, but he presented no evidence for that.
The wildfires in the West have been made much worse by a long period of above-average temperatures and lower-than-normal precipitation. What the area needs is some of the rainfall by recent hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico that struck the U.S. I suspect that folks in the panhandle of Florida and the Gulf Coast areas of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas would gladly ship some of the record-setting precipitation to help douse the wildfires in the West.
But, in spite of the president’s wish, it is not going to get cooler in the West. In fact, all climatologists predict that it going to get much hotter and drier.
Unfortunately, while folks in the flood-ravaged South would wish for drier times and willingly send some of that water out West, that is not the way nature works.
A number of years ago, I was doing some research for a chapter in a book about how global warming would lead to a massive drought. What I found was not what I had expected. It turned out that, indeed, some areas in the desert Southwest would get hotter and drier to the point that the current technology — called “swamp coolers” — in Phoenix, for example, would not work. In that hot and dry climate of the future, only Midwestern- and Southern-style air conditioners would cool residences and businesses. There was, however, an apparently insurmountable problem: Most citizens of the populous areas in the desert Southwest could not afford to replace swamp coolers for air conditioners.
But what I also learned was that some areas would, in the near future, become cooler and wetter. What I had thought would be a relatively easy chapter to write was not that at all. Even computer models came up with different answers about how more stuff in the upper atmosphere would result in how specific areas would be affected.
The chapter on global warming was a mess. Publishing house editors struggled mightily to make it more coherent and finally threw up their hands in dismay. It seemed that the term “global warming” should be replaced by “climate change,” as former President George W. Bush had advised. At some point, just about everywhere will become hot and dry — when that will occur is anybody’s guess.
In the meantime, sea waters and the Gulf of Mexico waters become warmer. More and stronger hurricanes result. California, Oregon and Washington states become hotter and drier. The reason was “discovered” by scientists eons ago: Carbon dioxide released from burning about anything — but in particular, fossil fuels — creates an effect in the upper atmosphere. Sunlight is allowed in, but heat is not allowed to escape. This is called the “greenhouse effect.”
I hasten to add that this is not a political issue, though President Trump and his followers try to make it one. Nope. Climate change or global warming — whichever it is called — affects everyone, whether Democrat, Republican, Green Party or whatever. Nature plays no favorites. A hurricane is mindless, destroying the property or lives regardless of ideology. Likewise, wildfires burn everything in their path; they don’t stop and check voting records.
We know what to do. We need to stop our reliance on oil and gas. Yet, powerful interests have been busy claiming that it is not the fault of the fossil-fuel industry — even when they admit the opposite behind closed doors — and the current crop of state and national politicians who are only interested in campaign donations.
Fortunately, climate change does not happen all at once. It’s not cool one day and hot the next; rather, the change is gradual. Akin to Al Gore’s frog, when the water becomes hot slowly, we will stay in the hot water until it is too late.
We must change now and not wait for things to overwhelm us. Otherwise our planet will become inhabitable only for rats and cockroaches. We will die hot and thirsty, or hot and drowning.