Reading the title of todayís column, some may be inclined to think Iím a big fan of the Five Man Electrical Band (or perhaps Tesla ... thatís a joke) and the groupís 1971 hit ďSigns,Ē although that couldnít be further from the truth. Political ramblings aside (Iím sure youíve heard enough out of me for now), Iíve always despised the song, despite its theme of anti-establishment, we are rock-n-roll and you are anything but.
Instead, the lyric brings to mind the non-controversy that is (or should be) climate change.
To say I found it ironic that Hurricane Isaac made landfall right about the time the Republican National Convention officially named good olí boy Mitt Romney the GOPís presidential candidate is putting it mildly. In fact ... if it werenít for the devastation that could (and probably will) take place in the deep south, particularly New Orleans, Iíd be laughing myself silly.
Who says God doesnít have a sense of humor?
Regardless, the past decade has revealed the proverbial tip of the iceberg when it comes to our changing climate ... no pun intended. And while Iím sure thereís a segment of our local population out there shaking their heads, fingertips to temples, saying, ďHere he goes again,Ē well ...
Here I go again.
And when I say that research is one of my favorite aspects of this job, I might as well be George Washington, as I can not tell a lie.
According to NASA Ė also known as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Ė carbon dioxide levels (you know, that stuff thatís ďreleased through human activities such as deforestation and burning fossil fuelsĒ) are at an all-time high, somewhere around 393 parts per million. That may not seem like a big deal, but when you consider thatís up from 378 parts per million in 2005, approximately 280 parts per million in 1950 and Ė wait for it Ė nearly 100 parts per million higher than in the past 400,000 years, well ... itís worth looking at.
Then again, we all know that NASA is simply one piece in the global conspiracy that is climate change, right?
I love sarcasm, donít you?
Hereís some other little tidbits for you, while Iím at it, also provided by NASA and a direct result of climate change:
Cold days, cold nights and frost less frequent over land areas; more frequent hot days and nights; heat waves more frequent over most land areas; increased incidence of extreme high sea level; global areas affected by drought increase; and an increase in intense tropical cyclone activity in North Atlantic.
Looking ahead, however, is the fun part.
Contraction of snow cover areas, increased thaw in permafrost regions; decrease in sea ice extent, increased frequency of hot extremes, heat waves and heavy precipitation; increase in tropical cyclone intensity; precipitation increases in high latitudes, precipitation decreases in subtropical land regions; and decreased water resources in many semi-arid areas, including western U.S. and Mediterranean basin (information also provided by NASA).
Hereís my favorite, though ... ďTaken as a whole, the range of published evidence indicates that the net damage costs of climate change are likely to be significant and to increase over time.Ē Ė The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Because we havenít seen any droughts, floods, more floods, increasingly powerful (and more frequent) hurricanes (and storms), melting glaciers and arctic ice, or changing weather patterns recently, have we?
And that stuff doesnít come cheap when clean-up time comes along.
With that said, Iím going to avoid placing blame in regards to climate change, because we all know it canít be our fault. Itís cyclical, happens all the time, and nothing we do could ever cause such a thing.
Then again, I love science (almost as much as research), so hereís a little experiment for you: Take your favorite lab animal (rat, bunny, monkey, puppy, whatever), stick it in a big, sealed sphere (with some holes for air to get in, we donít want the little guy to suffocate) and pump a non-stop supply of car exhaust into said sphere.
Whoops, he suffocated anyway. On a larger scale, our planet has an atmosphere (note ďsphereĒ), one that weíre slowly (maybe not so slowly) filling up with pollution and whatnot. Itís not rocket science (actually, itís climate science) and thereís no conspiracy involved.
Itís simply science.
And itís sad that far too many people feel weíve somehow earned the right to live and breathe and die on this planet with no regard for the consequences our actions may incur, yet we do have a responsibility to care for it as the living, breathing celestial body that it is. We too often take for granted the opportunities offered us with our increasingly complex and revolutionary technological know-how, despite the knowledge that irresponsible caretaking on our part may very well bring about our own demise. To ignore the potentially damning outcome of continued ignorance, to repeatedly turn the other cheek and a blind eye to the warning signs all around us is ... simply put ... fatuousness on an impossibly grand, morally reprehensible scale.
The scary part is that this column will change no minds. Weíve somehow made it to the point of objectivity on an insane scale. And I guess weíll have to settle for agreeing to disagree.
Look how far thatís gotten us.
Follow me on Twitter ... @evesunbrian