Climate Change or Global Warming…choose whichever phrase suits you best. Just don’t tell me that the Earth isn’t getting hotter. I have no time for such fools, naysayers, wishful thinkers, and outright liars (especially politicians) these days.
Truth is, I’d rather not have to write about the topic altogether. Instead, I wish I could wax scientific or poetic on any number of fascinating Sky Island species of flora or fauna. The sad truth, however, is that the very biodiversity I’d prefer to write about is at grave risk from Global Warming. I’m capitalizing the term – my preferred one since the climate is always changing and currently is heating up like a red-hot poker – to give emphasis to the phenomenon and all that it entails.
Our planet, ensconced in what astronomers term the “Goldilocks Zone,” is currently neither too hot nor too cold to support life. That is changing before our very eyes. As you read this, we are rapidly becoming more like
Venus, where greenhouse gasses create surface temperatures over 800 degrees Fahrenheit, hot enough to melt lead. Sound appealing?
We are not about to turn into Venus overnight. We don’t have to, however, for there to be catastrophic consequences for life as we know it – and yes, that includes us.
Already a veritable tidal wave of events is sweeping the globe with more to come unless we take action…like yesterday. In Arizona, officials at Maricopa County Public Health Dept. reported at least 29 people died from heat-related issues since March, compared to 16 heat-related deaths during the same period in 2021. Dozens of other deaths are under investigation for heat-related causes.
Experts agree that the dangerous temperatures are becoming more common across the globe due to climate change This July, London experienced a temperature of over 100o. This metropolis lies at 51 degrees latitude, north. No point of the lower 48 states is far enough north to be intersected by this line. That’s how hot it’s getting.
A handful of such weather events – short-term and day-to-day trends – is generally no cause for great alarm. When, however, country after country experiences an increasing quantity of extreme weather events each year, the weather trend suddenly morphs into a climate pattern, one that screams “Danger, danger, Will Robinson.”
A gentleman I was talking to a few years ago near Patagonia informed me of a winter weather update from his native Louisiana. “Just got four inches of Global Warming back home,” he declared. In other words, it just, unusually, snowed in Louisiana, so according to him, no such thing as Global Warming must therefore exist. That’s weather.
We are concerned with climate here, and we should be concerned. A high percentage of the world’s population live near low-lying coastal areas. They are threatened with long term inundation from melting polar ice. Heat waves could kill people, even well away from the tropics. Close to home, most of Arizona, and the west at large, have been experiencing varying levels of drought for years. Lakes Powell and Mead are drying so fast that soon the term “lake” will be passé.
All of this sounds very much like some of the science fiction movies I was so enamored with as a youth— especially one of my favorites, “The Day the Earth Caught Fire,” released in 1961, three years before I was born, when very few people thought that Global Warming could be a planet-threatening force. While the reasons behind that film’s hot Earth are vastly different than ours, its abandoned cities, dwindling water supplies, and panicked population ring far too true.
More not-so-science-fiction news: Some folks have proposed flooding the sky with titanium dioxide, which theoretically would prevent enough solar radiation from reaching the Earth’s surface to reduce its temperature. We don’t have nearly enough space here to address the multitude of things that can go awry with such a risky venture.
Another scheme is to grow legions of genetically modified poplar trees to combat the rising heat. The very trait that would qualify the trees to combat Global Warming – extremely quick growth – might well see them outcompeting and replacing native forests. That would be an ecological disaster.
Where does that leave us, right here and now? Unlike the fantasies of billionaires and dreams of NASA, we will not be able to move to another planet – Mars or otherwise. Let’s take care of the one that still supports life, heed good science, and do all we can to treasure that which we still enjoy. Otherwise, in the immortal words of Charlton Heston, ”Soylent Green is people.”
Vincent Pinto and his wife, Claudia, run RAVENS-WAY WILD JOURNEYS LLC, their Nature Adventure & Conservation organization devoted to protecting and promoting the unique biodiversity of the Sky Islands region. RWWJ offers a wide variety of private, custom-made courses, birding & biodiversity tours. Visit: www.ravensnatureschool.org