‘Wacky weather’ or climate change?

bfletcher@tri-statedefender.com | 9/14/2011, 7 p.m.
Fletcher Jr.

Having just come through a hurricane (Irene) I am getting irritated with the way that some TV anchors and even some meteorologists are talking about the weather. References, such as “wacky weather” makes it all seem odd and a bit funny but not indicative of a deeper problem.

Contrary to the nonsense spouted by right-wing ideologues, such as Michelle Bachmann, what we are witnessing is climate change in the context of a larger environmental crisis. This is not “wacky weather”; this is what is called “extreme weather,” and unless something is done about it we will have to get used to dangerous weather patterns.

The right-wing has attempted to dismiss the danger of climate change by challenging the notion of “global warming.” They pointed to snow storms in the northeast a couple of years ago as a way of saying that such a thing should not be happening if the world is warming. This was disingenuous. The world is not going to increase in temperature the same way in every locale.

What is happening is that with warmth – and, as you might notice, each summer is getting hotter than the last – weather patterns are thrown out of kilter. This is what lays the basis for extreme weather, such as, intense snow storms in the northeast, and serious drought in the Southwest. It also means that hurricanes will tend to become more numerous, larger, and their course will be less predictable.

Instead of talking about “wacky weather” as if it is weather that cannot be understood, what is needed is some climate education from the mainstream media services. We need to have a little introduction to what is happening to the climate and if the right-wing wants to debate it, let’s debate. The overwhelming scientific evidence is on the side of those who are warning of climate change and global warming.

Certainly there are scientists who question this, just as there were for years so-called scientists who questioned whether smoking tended to lead to cancer. These charlatans would point to some person who is now 96 and has been smoking all of their life and say that since this person did not get cancer there is no proof. But that is not science! It is chicanery, and it is the same sort of chicanery that is practiced by the political Right when they point to snow storms in the northeast supposedly proving that there is no global warming.

We need to be demanding of media outlets that they stop treating us as if we are soft in our heads and instead engage us in a discussion about climate change and what we can do to block it. Treating the weather as if it is totally out of the control of humans –when humans are contributing to climate change and environmental devastation – only promotes despair when now is the time for action.

(Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum and the co-author of “Solidarity Divided.” He can be reached at papaq54@hotmail.com.)