Environment Writing

We’ve Gotten All Climate-Changey

Raindrops on the Driveway

We have a problem with climate change.

I don’t intend to get alarmist on fair readers with dire predictions of the end of the world as we know it. Even though doomsday stories are quite popular, and climate science is, well science, there is another issue.

In our weird, wet spring weather we believe we have climate change figured out. Instead of planting our potatoes on Good Friday, now we’ll plant them in early June as the ground dries out and all will be hunky-dory. That’s a problem.

Science: Around 1850, physicist John Tyndall discovered that carbon dioxide traps heat in our atmosphere, producing the greenhouse effect, which enables all of creation as we know it to live on Earth.

Also science: As greenhouse gas emissions increased after World War II, our atmosphere warmed significantly. A warmer atmosphere holds more water vapor. As we discovered, water vapor laden atmosphere can unleash torrents of rain on Iowa and elsewhere. There’s photographic evidence!

Suddenly we’ve gotten all climate-changey. Every severe weather event is declared to be made worse because of climate change. Maybe it is although the complexity of our climate doesn’t lend itself to such simple statements.

What makes this problematic is in a culture where we appreciate detective work that goes into finding a villain, assigning blame, and making them pay with social shunning or other consequences, there is no single antagonist with climate change. We are all antagonists which makes a pretty boring story.

Iowans may believe climate change brought us a new normal of wet springs. What the science is telling us about climate change is there is no normal as we define the word. The minute we believe we have climate change figured out a new twist should be expected.

It is time to Act on Climate.

~ Published in the June 13, 2019 edition of the Solon Economist