Home editor's blog on sun & fossil fuels Climate change hits with fiery fury in Colorado

Climate change hits with fiery fury in Colorado

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left-hand-fire

A photo of the smoke from the 2011 Left Hand Canyon fire in Boulder, Colorado. Colorado is seeing unprecedented June heat, dry weather, and fires, a year later in 2012. [Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons Photo By Bo Insogna, TheLightningMan.Com]

editors-blog-entry3Global warming has become a politically taboo subject in the United States. This thanks to the fossil fuel industry which has successfully castrated the American mainstream media and cowered most of the American public, not to mention most politicians, into believing that they can’t say anything about global warming.

All of this as the United States undergoes cataclysmic weather changes only a fool – or a fossil fuel baron – wouldn’t notice: Unprecedented floods, fires, including the horrendous wildfires burning all over my state, Colorado, hurricanes, drought, and, last, but surely not least, record warm temperatures.

Dare to mention a given weather event – the floods in New England last summer, the massive wildfires that burned record acreage in Texas last year, the massive wildfires underway in the West, or even long-term trends, for instance, unprecedented high temperatures locally, nationally and globally, in the same breath as global warming and, in the U.S., at least you’re likely to get two responses: 1. Stop “politicizing” weather (you bastard)!; 2. You shouldn’t/can’t link an individual weather event to global warming.

Though unfortunately these two arguments have lots of ideological weight behind them, they are in fact very weak arguments. So, let’s take them apart :-)

  • You shouldn’t “politicize” weather. This argument seeks to rescue the person relying on it from having to argue a position themselves. After all, everyone “knows” you shouldn’t politicize things that allegedly aren’t political. End of argument, right? Sorry, Franky, it’s not that easy. Weather is political. Once there’s ideological disagreement, meaning differing value positions, about anything, that thing becomes inherently political. Politics is the formal outlet for battles among individuals and groups with different values. There is extreme disagreement about what is causing different weather events around the world. Thus, weather is inherently political. In short, the argument that someone who links a weather event to global warming is “politicizing” weather is specious. After all, that person can’t politicize something that’s already been a clear political issue for quite a long time.

  • You shouldn’t/cannot link individual weather events to global warming. This is the perfect argument for the global warming/climate change deniers. It’s nearly fool proof. You see, there’s no denying that on a certain micro level, every weather event is, in fact, an individual event. And, because it is, according to the logic of “every weather event is its own event,” you can never, ever link that event to the global picture. In other words – and this is where it gets so great for the climate change deniers – because ever single weather event is singular, we’ll NEVER be able to link any of these always singular events – not a SINGLE one -- to global warming. Therefore – logical fallacy drum roll, please – there is no such thing as climate change induced weather! Perfect! No matter that this perspective completely ignores the relation between individual/micro events and bigger/macro events, and therefore is totally faulty, it’s incredibly seductive. This is especially true in a hugely individualistic, micro-view-oriented country such as the United States where everything comes down to the individual, his or her rights, wants, needs, etc. and anyone who dares talk about the bigger picture is labeled a “socialist” and summarily dismissed as a “wacko.”
left-hand-fire-night

[Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons Photo By Bo Insogna, The LightningMan.Com]

Silencing critics of fossil fuels
Climate change deniers and the fossil fuel industries have leveraged the two perspectives above, especially the “it’s only an individual weather event,” and used them as a sledgehammer to pound everyone else into silence. They’ve successfully created a completely stifling environment of climate change political correctness according to which no one is “allowed” to say anything at all about possible links between local weather events and global climate change.

In fact, I’ve felt the pressure of this political correctness on SolarChargedDriving.Com. I’ve often toned my columns down. I’ve also not written as many environmentally oriented blog entries as I probably would have if not for the deep American sentiment against environmental advocates concerned with global warming.

My state, Colorado, is in flames right now, facing an unprecedented set of wildfires brought on by a winter with little snow in the mountains, a record-breaking warm spring, and a record-breaking warm June which has seen temperatures of 105 degrees in Denver and five days in a row of 100 degrees or above, something that’s NEVER happened in the month of June in Denver.

I’m tired of feeling as though I need to silence myself on global warming on SolarChargedDriving.Com for fear that I might turn a few people off, or because no one wants to listen. (Sadly, the least read entries on SolarChargedDriving.Com are ones that focus on climate change, global warming, and, more broadly, on environmental issues). Right now, I don’t care if I lose a few readers who have bought into the fossil fuel industry propaganda on climate change, or just hate greenies, or whatever…

There’s far too much at stake for humanity and so much change we need to achieve in a very short time (notice I’m not talking about the earth, but about people, because, in the very long term, the earth will recover, but humanity might not).

Colorado in flames
My state, Colorado, is in flames right now, facing an unprecedented set of wildfires brought on by a winter with little snow in the mountains, a record-breaking warm spring, and a record-breaking warm June which has seen temperatures of 105 degrees in Denver and five days in a row of 100 degrees or above, something that’s NEVER happened in the month of June in Denver.

This on top of a record breaking warm spring for the lower 48 in the United States, a record-breaking warm May for the Northern Hemisphere and, moving up to the global picture, global annual temperatures that have been above average every year for the last 30 years! – all of which coincides with human beings pumping increasing amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere.

No one can say for certain that the fires burning down large parts of Colorado Springs right now are a direct result of human caused climate change when that event is taken as a singular, local weather-induced event.

However, when you set the so-called Waldo Canyon fire – which has forced the evacuation of more than 30,000 people so far and burned hundreds of homes to the ground -- against a record warm spring, a Colorado snow pack that was at two percent of average at the beginning of June, and unprecedented heat with absolutely no rain, it’s pretty clear that there’s a very strong chance that this individual event is directly related to cataclysmic climate changes that we humans have kicked into high gear with our relentless fossil fuel burning ways.

waldo-canyon-fire-map

A map of the Waldo Canyon fire in the mountains just west of Colorado Springs. The fire has destroyed numerous homes.

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