Weeks like this can be incredibly taxing, for a number of reasons. First, there’s the incredible arctic vortex that has blown all the way down to the southern U.S., causing record-breaking freezes, exacerbating flooding in the northeastern part of the country and breaking down power and water systems.
Then, there are the inevitable pundits who believe that every blast of cold is proof against global warming… and get to say so on national news services, where even more gullible people get to listen.
It continually amazes me that people who seem to understand that weather is not easily or linearly predictable, still believe they know more about it than experts and scientists—whom they refuse to listen to anyway. If they did, they’d hear all they need to know about the links between global warming and extreme weather of ALL KINDS.
Scientists have maintained that global warming doesn’t just warm the planet, it puts additional energy (through additional heat and moisture) into all weather factors. The results are that all weather patterns get ramped up, creating extremes across the board. We’ve had clear evidence of those extremes for the past few years, the most notable in the U.S. before this incredible deep freeze being Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
And local (American) newspeople like to conveniently forget that the United States does not equate to The Entire World… as, if they bothered to check the temperature of the rest of the planet, even averaged in with our present cold spell, they would find that the planet is still warmer. You’d think that professional newspeople would display the intelligence of someone older than a nine-year-old, and realize that there’s a world out there beyond their street. But apparently there are many news stations for which photogenic qualities push things like grade school intelligence right out of the equation…
In the last ten years, we’ve seen record heat… record cold… record flooding… record drought. News personalities refuse to believe this is anything but a “cycle” that will soon end. But is that really what they’re complaining about?
Last night, The Daily Show, in its first 2014 broadcast, touched on this subject, and news team member Jessica Williams gave us a kernel of the truth: That many Americans are less concerned with the dangers of global warming than they are with the idea that their freedoms are about to be usurped. Americans don’t want to be told what car to drive (or when to drive it), what temperature to set their thermostats, what trees they can cut down to feed their home fires, or how close to the shore they can put their homes. “Global Warming” threatens to put constraints upon them… and whether those constraints are good for them or not, they resist, because they are constraints.
When you look at many of the areas where technology puts new and changing demands upon Americans, their resistance to them can be directly attributed to Americans’ resistance to constraints upon their perceived freedoms. Americans have let the very words Freedom and Liberty become buzzwords, mantras that must be repeated, concepts that must not be assailed, or risk ruining what it means to be American. So they’ll accept any excuse, any dodge, even if it fits a nine-year-old’s understanding of how the world works, in order to maintain their status quo.
But in refusing to allow Freedom and Liberty to be bent or tested, we are ruining America by being intentionally blind to its needs and needed improvements. Refusing to take steps to curb global warming, because we don’t want to be told what light bulbs we can no longer buy, undermines the strength of this country, and all those who follow in its mud-weighted footsteps.
And sooner or later, all that effort put into not bending our Freedom will only result in its breaking at some point; we will be forced into steps that will be so painful and abrupt that we will find ourselves wishing we had been smarter, and bent a bit in the first place.
But then, that’s America: Don’t fix it until it fails. And learn the lesson the hard way. I remember a joke told by James Burke in his broadcast, After the Warming: He tells of a man who falls out of a 100-story building, and as he falls past the twentieth floor, someone sticks his head out of a window and asks, “How’s it going?”
The falling man replies: “So far, so good!”
To the pundits, and those who listen to them: Enjoy your snow, and your opinions, while you can. It’ll only hurt that much more when you hit bottom.