Re: Nelson Star Newsmaker of the Year (January 2, 2012 front page).
Climate change, not Mother Nature, is what is taking a stand in 2012 as Newsmaker of the Year 2012.
Why don’t we come out and say “global warming” or “climate change?” Is it fear of taking a stand or expressing a strong opinion? Perhaps this phenomenon is related to the campaign of denial that claims that global warming is natural and has been happening since the last Ice Age. Misinformation or partial data have been used to cast doubt on the real science. Meanwhile profits in the fossil fuel industry continue to grow at a breakneck pace, an industry that benefits from this lack of action.
I think a story on the huge subsides that the oil and gas industries receive and how it relates to our warming planet (or controlling and pacifying the press) should be one of the newsmaker of the year.
Scientists have been saying for decades that we can expect more intense rainfall events in a warming climate and the extreme precipitation events early last summer are entirely consistent with this. As planetary energy imbalance continues to deepen, ice caps are disappearing, vegetation is moving north, surface and ocean temperatures continue to rise, weather patterns are changing dramatically and extreme weather events are taking a growing toll.
Scientists are now warning of a tipping point of 400 parts per million (ppm) concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. After that threshold, they predict the climate warming trend will be irreversible and could accelerate. Current levels are around 390 ppm.
So what will it take to push us into action? More mud slides, more flooding, more deaths, an interface fire like the one in Slave Lake that consumed one-third of the town? In the meantime, the best we can do is to try to fix the holes in our sinking earth ship and get used to these extreme weather events as the norm.