We recently took a day trip to some circa-1300s cliff dwellings nearby. The flyer telling the history of the place also offered up scientific musings on climate change that bolster my eye-roll attitude on the subject. Here’s a compilation of quotes from the brochure:

“In the 1100’s, population centers [in Arizona] approached their social and economic peaks as drought, plant and animal depletion and population growth pushed resource availability to critical levels. Around 1330, dramatic change occurred; the region became more arid, lowering water tables.The changing climate … severely impacted the ecosystem [as] competition for resources created stress among the villagers. In the late 1300s, resource depletion intensified, populations declined and catastrophic flooding destroyed [many] villages.”

Sounds like today, doesn’t it? For years I’ve said that the climate has always changed. There have always been wild variations whose timelines aren’t encompassed by our life spans or those of our immediate ancestors or descendants; or the Dust Bowl survivors. I’m the absolute opposite of a climatechange-denier, I’m a full-on believer. I just think that it shows a shocking amount of hubris to think that we have one damned thing to say about how it plays out.

Municipal water providers suck more and more from the groundwater and rivers which are fed by rain and snowmelt. Because of the destruction of natural rivers and lakes and the practice of housing city reservoirs underground to prevent evaporation, there is less moisture rising to fill the clouds and provide rain, so that cycle has been broken.

There you have it — about the extent,without figuring in air pollution, which is way above my pay grade — of manmade climate change. But, do you expect to see the cities in our country, which has under 5% of the world’s population, turn their water loose in the name of preserving the climate? Even if such a fantastical notion came to pass here, what are the odds that the other 95% of the world is going to follow our lead? Can you say zilch? Zero? Nada? And do you think Mother Nature gives a hoot what we the 5% do?

What we can influence to a much greater degree than climate change is plastic pollution in our 5% of the world.

About 10% of the plastic put into recycle bins actually gets recycled … 10%! Glass, steel and aluminum are endlessly recyclable as they don’t lose much of their viability in the process.

How have climate change and pollution gotten lumped in together as one cause? The ‘environmentalists’ you see climbing poles (with plastic water bottles in tow) to protest logging, landfills and whales flailing in plastic trash are more likely to be the urban dwellers who are responsible for the mess. Those of us out here in flyover country are trying to take care of that which supports us: clean air and water, forest and land management, maintaining healthy populations of the game we hunt, you know … the environment. It would be nice if we could keep the treehuggers from telling us how to do it.

Leslie Baker lives in Linden.

Leslie Baker lives in Linden.

(1) comment

ronzim

This is not science; rather, it is data selection to fit a specific conclusion which cannot be supported by any scientific research. Tourist brochures are not scientific papers. At all events the entire post is in flagrant error of even the most basic scientific principles.

To begin with, any recitation of the paleo-climate conditions of any region, cited as evidence that the severe, periodic climate conditions which preceded human influence, demonstrates that current climate conditions are within the scope of natural variability, is entirely false. One great fiction of climate deniers is the simpleminded, failed attempt to establish that myth. The trouble is that science has analyzed those severe events and placed them within the long term climate variability both to determine the degree of their abnormality and the natural causes of those events.

Part of that tracking project has been the extensive measurement, dimensions and impacts of climate anomalies since the onset of the first industrial revolution. The results have consistently shown that every natural cause of climate impact, in toto, cannot have produced the levels of climate change we have been witness to over the past century or so. The departures from natural variability are so immense that they can only be accounted for by adding the human emissions of green house gases and adverse land practices to the natural causes.

"Over the course of the 21st century, the Southwest will experience significant increases in drought frequency and overall aridity as a result of anthropogenic global warming. Warmer surface temperatures will increase evaporative demand, leading to reduced soil moisture content. Decreased precipitation across the region will also contribute to the increase in drought frequency, although its role will be secondary to that of evaporation. The effects of increasing regional aridity are expected to include changes in plant communities, reduced snowpack's and earlier snow melt, lower stream flows, warmer stream temperatures, increased groundwater extraction, reduced hydropower generating capacity, increased tree mortality, and increased wildfire risk.

In short, in the future the American Southwest will be hotter and drier than it is today. Drought conditions, as defined relative to 20th century averages, will become the norm—a permanent drought, in essence. There will still be wet years, as well as some truly exceptional dry years, but that variability will fluctuate around a mean climate state that, overall, will be much drier than the previous century’s." Climate Institute

The comments about environmentalists and climate scientists being engaged in a single project are inane, at the very least. Climate scientists are involved in an effort to expose the great damage done to our habitat by human emissions and land practices. Environmentalists are focused on the self destructive outcomes of trashing our only habitat by virtually all means not under the purview of the climate scientists. It is meaningless to suggest that their sharing of some common goals(to save the Earth as human habitat) involves some sort of calumny.

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