What Global Warming?

By Shawn Dell Joyce

As you read this column, we’re poised on the brink of yet another snow storm, with a few inches still piled up from the last one. Many people have taken this opportunity to wag their fingers at me and say “What global warming?”

 Pulitzer prize-winning columnist Thomas Friedman coined the term “global wierding” last week to replace the misleading phrase “global warming.” While the earth has warmed a degree, and is projected to warm quicker than natural over the next century, we are anything but warm today.

 Our weather is indeed weird with massive snow just south of us and rain at the Winter Olympics in Canada. Australia is having a record 13-year drought , and Texas ended a drought this winter with massive snow storms. As a matter of fact, Texas got snow this year before we did.

What does all this prove or disprove? Nothing really. “Climate is what we expect and weather is what we get,” according to NASA. We have only been collecting data on weather for the past 100 years, and trends in climate are measured in thousands of years. A single weather event; like a hurricane, or a spell of unusual weather; like snow in Texas, may be unprecedented; but still within the “normal” range.

 What is actually happening to our climate is right in line with predicted climate change models; some parts of the earth are experiencing drought while flooding happens elsewhere. Storms are more severe, summers are hotter, spring comes earlier, and polar ice is diminishing.

Many old timers in our region remember waist-high snow drifts and ice skating to school on the Wallkill. We haven’t seen a REAL severe winter in a while if you talk to those who actually lived through them. Some of us tourists (residents who haven’t lived here 20 years yet) quake in fear at the thought of a N’oreaster.

 Whether one actually believes in human-driven climate change or not has become irrelevant. The truth is that we all have to eat, and breathe, and both things are becoming more difficult as our population swells, and resources become tight. If you care about clean air, water, and food security, than we have enough common ground to rebuild our country with green energy and localized economies.
We sorely need industry in our region, and unfortunately, most of it has been outsourced overseas. Renewable energy, energy efficiency, Cultural Tourism, and other similar industries are the only ones that can’t be completely outsourced — because they are place-based. You can’t wrap up an historic Victorian house and send it to China for weatherization. That is something that has to be done here, by a local person.

Friedman writes: “I suspect China is quietly laughing at us right now. And Iran, Russia, Venezuela and the whole OPEC gang are high-fiving each other. Nothing better serves their interests than to see Americans becoming confused about climate change, and, therefore, less inclined to move toward clean-tech and, therefore, more certain to remain addicted to oil.”

Let’s stop debating each other and actually do something for a change. Let’s get America back on her feet and into the green millennium so that our kids and grandkids stand a chance.

Shawn Dell Joyce is an award-winning newspaper columnist and director of the Wallkill River School in Montgomery.


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