Written by Dale Suderman Wednesday, 03 October 2007 13:31Global warming is easy to mock. Kansas gets a late snowfall at Easter. Al Gore got caught in a New York City blizzard where he was to deliver a speech on global warming. One can use these incidents to whoop it up, slap your thigh and debunk global warming.
But stubborn facts exist. Long-term Great Plains temperatures are rising. This can be marketed and used to encourage folks to retire in Kansas rather than in Florida or California.
Perhaps one could even do longer-term marketing and encourage folks to speculate on future ocean front properties on scrubland south of Wichita.
It is speculated that by 2020 enough Arctic ice will have melted to open a Northwest Passage allowing ships to travel from Europe to China by going north of Canada. The Canadians and Americans are already at loggerheads about this route with the Canadians claiming it as their territory and the Americans insisting it is an international waterway.
(My long-standing position has always been we should not negotiate with Canadians on any issue but, rather, invade and conquer them in one swift blow. But with America’s recent bad luck in taking over countries, even invading Canada would probably set off a civil war between their French- and English-speaking populations and we would be bogged down for decades.)
We are told that global warming may cause coral reefs to disappear and polar bears to become an endangered species. We reply that we have never seen a polar bear outside of a zoo or a coral reef.
We are told that human activity may be the cause of global warming but oil companies and their paid lackeys reassure us this is not the case.
The overwhelming majority of world scientists tell us that global warming is imminent and has grave consequences. “Just look at the statistical models and the multitudinous bits of evidence,” they shout.
We reply that we are simple people and science and mathematics never interested us much.
But even our current president now admits that global warming is “an issue.” He is careful to assure us he will spend nothing and make no policy changes in response, but he does at least admit the phenomena exists.
(His words give reassurance to China and India, who insist they have a right to their own century of industrial pollution to match the centuries of American and European pollution.)
We are all becoming a little green these days simply because of rising energy costs—if not because we believe in global warming. There is talk of wind farms in Marion and Chase counties, of Greensburg being rebuilt as a green village and even squeezing ethanol from algae farms in western Kansas.
But the larger question remains. Suppose the scientists are right and global warming will lead to radical climate shifts producing famine and population relocations, rising oceans that will flood entire countries and storm patterns of unprecedented ferocity?
And suppose our economic actions now will have an impact—negative or positive—for future generations.
This is an unprecedented question in human history. Our ethical and economic actions today could impact generations not yet born.
You can contact the writer at Dale.Suderman@gmail.com