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We landed a man on the moon, the world is not flat, and evolution is a fact. Most Americans will nod in agreement, but not one of those supposed facts will get a unanimous assent. The moon landing will pick up as much as a 5 percent denial rate that it ever occurred. Somewhere around 15 million Americans believe the moon landing was faked and that somewhere, probably in California, there is a moonscape soundstage.

But then there is global warming (let's be honest and not call it climate change). Non-believers are a lot more numerous than moon-landing deniers; they will tell you they aren't scientists, but are exactly right when they say the climate has always changed.

Let's listen to scientists, who will say more than the denier's refrain: "I just don't believe in global warming."

First, let's look at the scientific evidence. Around 100 million years ago, a younger earth was more volcanically active to the point where emissions from thousands of volcanoes spewed billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which blocked the sun's warmth from escaping. The earth was a hothouse, and the temperature of the planet soared. The ice at both poles melted, and the continents shrank. A great inland sea covered most of Louisiana and Florida, and the earth's land mass was reduced to its lowest point in history.

Then, as the earth's volcanic activity diminished and the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere lowered, the earth slowly cooled until around 65 million years ago, which a large meteorite struck the earth near the Yucatan. This resulted in a cloud of debris that caused a global winter, killing over 90 percent of life on the planet.

From that point the earth slowly reached atmospheric equilibrium, interrupted only by sunspot-induced glacial ages. But since the last age some 20,000 years ago, the earth's atmosphere has achieved equilibrium. Only recently, coinciding with the start of the Industrial Age, has the earth's atmosphere slowly started to become warmer.

The result of the gradual overall warming of two to three degrees has taken place in a very short geologic period of time, caused by an increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It is because of human activity. There are no other reasons for the atmosphere to become warmer.

The result of this temperature increase is catastrophic. Both polar ice caps are rapidly losing volume, steadily adding to a rising sea level where villages in Alaska are being evacuated and numerous South Sea islands are disappearing. The continents are seeing normal weather patterns becoming hyper systems producing devastating weather events. For example, Houston has seen three severe 500-year weather systems just during the past year, and tornado season in the U.S. has reached unbelievable numbers.

Now let's consider the flooding of the Arkansas River. Obviously, that has been caused by torrential rains occurring in the river's watershed, which happened, according to scientists who have studied the effects of increased global temperature change, because of global warming. Ninety-eight percent of the scientific community agree.

When Columbia University professor Wallace Smith Broecker popularized the term "global warming" in 1975, he predicted that rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere would lead to climate change. That's exactly what has happened.

Are we ready to abandon life on the flood plain of the Arkansas River and other rivers and watch as our coastal cities disappear beneath a steadily rising sea? How much more will we have to suffer through before we admit the obvious?

The same scientists who correctly called the period of intense weather associated with global warming are telling us that another two to three degrees of warming will be beyond catastrophic. The worst is yet to come, and to back up their claim, the last five years have been the hottest worldwide since temperatures were measured.

The world's industrial countries continue to pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, resulting in a steady increase of the earth's temperature, which will bring about severe restrictions on the earth's inhabitants. If the rate of warming continues at the current level, in less than 50 years a portion of our planet will be uninhabitable as severe weather and rising seas reduce arable land.

Our grandchildren will live on an extremely hostile planet where the very necessities of life will be scarce and weather systems that are severe beyond our imagination will ravage the earth. We ain't seen nothin' yet!

As we look at the flooding of the Arkansas River, we see irrefutable evidence of global warming. But even more terrifying is the prospect of it happening year after year. I'm not fear-mongering, but stating projections made by the experts. Do we want to hand off a planet to our grandchildren that has as much as 25 percent of its land unfit for human habitation?

For an intelligent, non-scientific person to refute the finding of the scientific community is without precedent. It has become a mantra to say, "I don't believe in global warming." As if you are saying "I believe in God."

In order to divert needed resources away from trying to stem a worldwide catastrophe when the planet's very survival at stake, is beyond criminal. With the threat to billions of the earth's inhabitants on the line, it should be the overriding bipartisan theme of every country to join in the fight to reverse the warming of the planet. This goal to reduce global warming should be treated as if a worldwide threat of a major plague is threatening civilization.

I'm tired of hearing scientifically illiterate people saying they don't believe in global warming. If they would only realize the stupidity of that statement, they would hang their heads in shame.

Email Richard Mason at

Editorial on 06/09/2019

Print Headline: Global warming and raging rivers


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