As we enjoy the guilty pleasure of another New England midwinter heatwave this weekend, and Phoenix just today ends its record-shattering cactus-wilting drought count chronicled here in The New York Times, it's good timing for David Ignatius' column in The Washington Post . He covers everything from the tiniest frog to planetary systems in chaos, all while pointing the fickle finger of political fate at the Bush Administration for inaction and obstructionism. Might as well scream it from the top of the icebergs now before you find youself at sea level:
The warnings are coming from frogs and beetles, from melting ice and changing ocean currents, and from scientists and responsible politicians around the world. And yet what is the U.S. government doing about global warming? Nothing. That should shock the conscience of Americans.
Shocked, I am.
And he continues:
Actually, the Bush administration's policy is worse than doing nothing. It has resisted efforts by other nations to discuss new actions that could reduce emissions of carbon dioxide before the global climate reaches a disastrous tipping point. And it muzzles administration scientists to keep them from warning about the seriousness of the issue. The administration's position is that more research is needed - and then, as evidence grows that humans are adding to global warming, it calls for still more research.
Every week brings new evidence that global climate change is real and that it's advancing more rapidly than scientists had expected. This past week brought a report in Science that the Antarctic is losing as much as 36 cubic miles of ice a year. Last month researchers reported that glaciers in Greenland are melting twice as fast as previously estimated. One normally cautious scientist, Richard Alley, told The Post's Juliet Eilperin he was concerned about the Antarctic findings, since just five years ago scientists had been expecting more ice. "That's a wake-up call," he said. "We better figure out what's going on."
Now if you're a curious sort, you might click on that picture to enlarge it. It's not one frog, but a pair of Harlequin frogs in amplexus. I just love scouring the net and the animal kingdom to find these things for you! Read on:
Animals don't have the luxury of ordering up more studies of global warming. Andrew Revkin of the New York Times reported in January that colorful harlequin frogs found in Latin America are dying at alarming rates because of a fungus that seems to be linked to global warming. Doug Struck explained last week in The Post that climate change is helping the ravenous mountain pine beetle devour forests in British Columbia, killing more trees than wildfires or logging. Similar findings are stacked in a depressing pile in my study that keeps getting taller.
And now we come to the Bush administration - the folks who once warned that it would be folly to wait so long for evidence that the "smoking gun" might be a mushroom cloud. Their spirit of vigilance was applied to Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, which turned out not to exist - but not to climate change, which does. In a meeting in Montreal last December, the chief American delegate, Harlan L. Watson, got so peeved about a proposal for new global "mechanisms" to carry out the 1992 Kyoto Protocol that he walked out. The American side relented after the wording was softened to "opportunities," and there's now at least a hope for future talks about talks about global warming.
Unforgivable is a great sentiment:
As evidence grows that human activity is accelerating dangerous changes in the world's climate, the Bush administration's excuses for inaction are running out. History will not forgive political leaders who failed to act on this issue, and neither should voters.
Certainly something to be taken seriously especially as we watch this horror show of a drought unfolding in Kenya leaving more than a billion people without clean drinking water and livestock. That's billion, with a "b". Pretty sobering, and heart-wrenching if you saw CNN's report featuring a dying camel. Sobering, I suppose, unless you're busy celebrating the high alcohol content in wine as a result of global warming, discussed in the Phili Inquirer. The entirely agriculturally dependent wine industry is smart to consider how to adapt, but I can't help finding it disappointing to see what about global warming 'speaks' to people. That shouldn't stop us from raising a glass of globally-warmed, world-class, Pennsylvania cabernet sauvignon or Canadian pinot for a toast. Cheers!! clink. clink.