Posts Tagged 'global warming'

Old Testament Prophets and Environmental Forecasts

Over lunch, I’m snatching a few minutes to read about the terrible prophesies of Isaiah in Karen Armstrong’s History of God.  Isaiah’s prophesies – of devastation of the land and the uprooting of most of the people – were of course soundly rejected, and also of course came true.

Reading this reminded me that no one, and no nation, likes to hear prophesies that for-tell disasters that can only be prevented by the people acting as a whole, at great cost in personal wealth and comfort, and with a great deal of uncertainty.

Prophesies of Global Warming?   It feels much better to pay attention to respected elders and experts who reassuringly say that such prophesies are unreasonable and even dangerous, and that we don’t really need to make big and difficult changes, that might cause us to be more careful with our wealth and our time.

But who is to know??

It might help to look at the record of environmental disasters that were predicted well in advance, and not heeded.   For example, several years before too much of New Orleans was destroyed, all that happened was predicted as a near certainty if big steps weren’t taken to prevent them.   Why weren’t the predictions heeded?  Because taking action would cost too much, would require more taxes, or would be bad for the economy.   All now very sad reasons.

When a majority of scientists and climate experts (not all mind you) are predicting disaster, a wiser nation would at least have a serious discussion with itself (instead of derisive dismissal or stone-walling), to find and agree on creative solutions, and hedge its bets — like investing on a huge scale in non-polluting, low CO2 emitting, sustainable technologies  – because there is simply too much to lose.

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Global Warming is better explained as Climate Chaos

Jokes about record snow falls here and there – e.g. where I live – are making the rounds to poke holes in “Global Warming” ideas.    And so are more scientifically-based clarifications that show that global warming is no joke.   A problem is, though, that the people laughing at the jokes may not be likely to see or be interested in the clarifications.

Here is one of the best written and substantiated clarifications that appeared in yesterday’s Washington Post:

Washington’s snowstorms, brought to you by global warming.
By Bill McKibben, Sunday February 14, 2010

An excerpt:

“In most places, winter is clearly growing shorter and less intense. …But rising temperature is only one effect of climate change.  Probably more crucially, warmer air holds more water vapor than cod air does.  The increased evaporation from land and sea leads to more drought but also to more precipitation…  The numbers aren’t trivial – global warming has added 4 percent more moisture to the atmosphere since 1970.  That means the number of ‘extreme events’ such as downpours and floods has grown steadily; the most intense storms have increased by 20 percent across the United States in the past century.

“So here’s the thing:  despite global warming, it still gets cold enough to snow in the middle of winter… And the chances of what are technically called ‘big honking dumps’ have increased.”

As a scientific frame for what is happening, “global warming” is very accurate.  But as a frame that can quickly get the point across, “Climate Chaos” may be more to the point — the point being that global warming causes a whole range of climate disruptions on a global scale that can be not only annoying but dangerous to many.


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