Should we heed the dire warnings?

Published 10:15 pm Thursday, August 12, 2010

We’re waiting for the “I-told-you-so” chorus to begin. After all, expert climate scientists warned us that we’d see the catastrophic weather events taking place this summer.

According to the Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization, experts warned that global warming would bring about floods, fires, oppressive heat waves, even the melting of the arctic ice that led to the breaking off a 100-square-mile piece of Greenland earlier this week.

In 2007, the United Nation’s network of climate scientists known as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, reiterated that its predictions of more frequent heat waves and more intense rainfalls already were beginning to be realized.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

This summer, our world has endured:

Record heat waves, not only here in the South but in Russia, where wildfires are choking Moscow in smog and the drought has decimated a third of the country’s wheat harvest;

Deadly flooding China, where rains have increased up to 33 percent since 1961 and floods nationwide have increased sevenfold since the 1950s.

Monsoons in Pakistan that have left a fifth of the country under water, killing 1,500 Pakistanis in the process. The rain is caused, experts say, by a warmer atmosphere that can hold more water.

The breaking off of a 100-mile piece of ice in Greenland. It is the most massive break in the Arctic in half a century, experts say.

And here, in America, deadly flooding in Iowa and the Midwest and the oppressive and deadly heat waves which gripped the nation in late July and early August.

Struggling with the causes of climate change and the ongoing debate about what man can, and should, do to offset the change continues to polarize Americans and leaders around the world. Ultimately, we cannot control the weather or the forces of nature. But as a species, we must begin to better understand our impact on that natural cycle and seek ways to minimize the harm we are doing. Political activists are sure to seize upon this summer’s climate catastrophes as proof – “I-told-you-so” moments – that the dire warnings were accurate.

But we don’t need political spin or fear-mongering. What we need is a real understanding of the issue and solutions to the ongoing changes facing our world.