Last year, America suffered historic weather calamities: disastrous tornadoes, severe floods, extended drought, record-breaking snowfall, raging wildfires, etc. Federal agencies say $52 billion in property loss was inflicted, and more than 1,000 Americans died in weather ravages.
This year brought the warmest March ever known, breaking about 15,000 local U.S. heat records. Early tornadoes again left wreckage and death.
Scientists say the violent weather is solid evidence that fossil fuel fumes are girdling Planet Earth with greenhouse gases that produce global warming and climate change. Warmer air holds more moisture, producing more extreme storms.
A new study by Yale and George Mason university pollsters found that 70 percent of Americans now believe that "global warming is affecting the weather." Yale professor Anthony Laiserowitz commented: "People are starting to connect the dots."
Subsequently, a worldwide "connect the dots" demonstration took place May 5 by environmentalist groups led by reformer Bill McKibben. Some events:
• At a receding glacier in California's High Sierras, activists erected a gigantic sign saying "I'm melting" (the witch's lament in The Wizard of Oz).
• In Miami, Manhattan and Maui, sign-carrying pickets lined low-lying streets that someday are expected to be underwater as melting polar ice raises sea levels.
• In Australia, activists held a "dry creek regatta" to spotlight worsening drought.
• In the Marshall Islands, divers visited coral reefs menaced by rising ocean.
Other events were staged in Peru, South Korea, France, Senegal, Pakistan, Thailand, Costa Rica, Mexico, Canada, etc. The worldwide affair was displayed online, but news media mostly ignored it. McKibben complained that TV news networks merely shrug about climate danger. He wrote:
"Last year, in fact, all the Sunday talk shows spent exactly nine minutes on climate change -- and here is a shock: All of it was given to Republican politicians in the great denial sweepstakes."
He said the news shows are dotted with million-dollar "commercials from oil companies lying about their environmental efforts."
This topic has special resonance in West Virginia, a fossil fuel treasure trove. And what happens here has a special impact on the future of the planet. Pollution controls seeking to reduce global warming are sure to impose tighter restrictions on coal and natural gas. West Virginia's energy should not be squandered on a shortsighted attempt to protect the status quo, or to discredit science in the public's eyes, or to vilify the Obama administration's very reasonable proposal that new coal-fired power plants be required to limit their greenhouse gas emissions. West Virginia should put its energy into getting people ready to work in a world after coal.
Conservatives doubt that climate change is real, or that fossil fumes cause it. Republicans in some state legislatures are passing laws to let public school science teachers dispute both evolution and global warming.They are leading people down a wrong and dangerous road. The evidence shows that greenhouse gases are linked to the rise of billion-dollar weather disasters, and these disasters are just the beginning.