As I sit here writing this in the Oklahoma City area on this early December afternoon, the temperature is in the high 60s and rising, and the National Weather Service is predicting a high for the day around 78 degrees.
Yesterday, the high temperatures recorded at Will Rogers Airport broke the previous high record for December 1 in Oklahoma City of 76 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. Some cities in southern Oklahoma reported highs in the 80s.
I enjoyed getting outside yesterday, and I plan to do so again today, but these warm days, the most recent "year without winter," the extremely hot summer, the continued drought here and the recent hurricane on the East Coast make me wonder about the continued effects of global warming on our planet.
It's great to enjoy part of a nice warm day in December at a local park, but the fact that today's weather might be significantly altered by man-made carbon emissions takes away at least some of the enjoyment and tints the day with a certain surreal edge.
Does all this sound too pessimistic? Consider just a sampling of recent facts:
- Sea level rises because of melting polar ice contributed significantly to the strength of Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast.
- The first eight months of this year were considered the hottest in recorded history in the continental United States.
- A massive, widespread drought in the Midwest, now affecting Oklahoma, continues to inflict damage on the country's so-called bread basket, threatening watter supplies.
These are just some of the most recent events and developments. Oklahoma's hottest summer on record occurred in 2011, for example. What we know on a scientific basis is that carbon emissions, created by the burning of fossil fuels, increase the impact of the greenhouse effect, which heats the planet.
George Lakoff sums it up this way:
Global warming is real, and it is here. It is causing - yes, causing - death, destruction, and vast economic loss. And the causal effects are getting greater with time. We cannot merely adapt to it. The costs are incalculable. What we are facing is huge. Each day, the amount of extra energy accumulating via the heating of the earth is the equivalent of 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs. Each day!
Oklahoma's own U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, who believes global warming is a liberal "hoax," claims people are simply arrogant for believing they can impact the climate. Inhofe once told an interviewer, "The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He [God] is doing in the climate is to me outrageous."
Unfortunately for our future, Inhofe's remarks are what pass for conventional wisdom here this unusually warm December day.