Global warming made real


Over the last month, we have had a full taste of global warming. We are breathing it. It’s no longer just some abstract event impacting people in some far away third world country like Bangladesh or  even heat waves and droughts in Australia, on the other side of the planet.

Scientists (perhaps now fired by the current administration in Washington D.C) have been warning for decades that the effects of global warming will be much larger, more frequent storms. With the oceans being heated up, the normal storms will get even greater strength. And that is exactly what is happening with Irma and Harvey. There are still thousands of people, maybe tens of thousands, that have never recovered from Sandy or Katrina, or any of the other storms we now have forgotten in the last ten years.

In the western U.S. a heavy drought with intense heat has laid in from California to British Columbia. Hundreds of fires are raging across the west, destroying Southern Oregon forests, the north side of the Columbia Gorge, the Cascades and into central British Columbia. Many of these fires are being described as the largest ever witnessed in these areas. Thousands have been displaced while the smoke from these fires are being breathed by millions for weeks on end, including us here on the Olympic Peninsula. The outcome of that will be greater lung cancers in years to come.

Snow packs in this heat continue to melt and rise. I drove north from San Francisco to Seattle last week, driving through Arizona desert like temperatures of 112 degrees F.  in Redding California. It was over 100 at the summit of Shasta’s I5 pass.

If this kind of heat continues, it will make farming in California very difficult. Along with the physical stress of trying to expect humans to farm in  112 heat, is the question of whether there will be snow pack for drinking and agriculture in 20 years. California produces a huge amount of our vegetables. Adapting farming for this kind of scenario is going to cost all of us a lot more at the grocery store.

The Americans who have willfully ignored the warnings of scientists now are part of the refugee pool in Houston and much of Southern Texas’ coast. We can look at that outcome and say, well, you asked for it by continuing to elect politicians that want to tell you that all is well.  But this country is not red or blue. It’s purple everywhere, with people supporting each side in elections, or no side at all.  Unfortunately, the neighbors of these ignorant climate change deniers  voted for people who wanted us to pay attention, had their candidates lose and also find themselves in the same, literal and physical boat.

This emerging crisis needs leadership. We unfortunately now find ourselves turning to local and state politics as the Presidency and Congress seem, for reasons harder and harder to comprehend, to willfully want to ignore the alarm bells of climate change. What is it going to take? A hurricane to level Washington D.C.?

Locally we need to continue to talk about where Port Townsend is going to get it’s water if drought continues for decades and snow packs continue to recede.  I don’t hear much about that issue at all.

Time to get serious and act as if every decision by our local and state governments is going to have to take global warming into consideration. Now.

One Response

  1. “We unfortunately now find ourselves turning to local and state politics…” Unfortunately, it’s not happening there either. For example, in Seattle—this so-called ultra-liberal city—people are more interested in fighting over minimum wage and labor issues and whether or not single family zoning is racist and thus needs to be replaced with apartments everywhere to promote “affordable housing.”

    We fight about issues that are largely irrelevant to stopping the growth machine and BAU in all sectors. We are mostly oblivious to the facts in front of our collective face. Advocating for something as basic as applying systems ecology thinking to Seattle’s energy and material flows gets no traction.

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