Monday, May 19, 2014

Houston Chronicle:  Climate Change Is Real

In this Aug. 3, 2011 file photo, Texas State Park police officer Thomas Bigham walks across the cracked lake bed of O.C. Fisher Lake in San Angelo, Texas. Global warming is rapidly turning America into a stormy and dangerous place, with rising seas and disasters upending lives from flood-stricken Florida to the wildfire-ravaged West, according to a new U.S. federal scientific report released Tuesday, May 6, 2014. (Credit: AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) Click to enlarge.
The recent report on climate change from the U.N.-chartered Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a sober reminder that what we as individuals happen to "believe" about global warming - unless we happen to be climate scientists - has absolutely no bearing on whether the phenomenon is a vast hoax perpetrated by 99 percent of the scientific community or a looming crisis that, as the report underscores, will affect everybody on this planet.

Skepticism on most issues is, indeed, healthy, but in any number of areas, whether it's relying on M.D. Anderson for cancer treatment or a Texas A&M-trained civil engineering fund to erect bridges and skyscrapers, we have to trust the experts.  So it is with measuring and assessing the evidence of climate disruption.  As conservative columnist Michael Gerson pointed out in The Washington Post recently, "Our intuitions are useless here."

The report from the scientists, economists and other experts on the IPCC panel is about as sobering as it can get.  The panel warned that the planet is indeed warming, that humans are primarily responsible and that we are not anywhere near prepared for the dire consequences.

In Texas and elsewhere change already is upon us.  We're seeing increased rates of water loss, depleting water resources, increased wildfires, and the spread of invasive species.  Our grandchildren and their children will see a rise in sea level from 1 to 4 feet by the end of the century.

"Climate change is no longer a future issue," Katherine Hayanoe, director of Texas Tech's Climate Change Science Center, told the Chronicle recently.  "For the United States as a whole, climate change will affect our lives through its impacts on our health, our water resources, our food, our natural environment and our economy."

Debating the validity of climate change - or whether we believe in climate change - is a waste of time; debating what to do in response is anything but a waste.

Houston Chronicle:  Climate Change Is Real

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