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OPINION | RICHARD MASON: Hot enough for ya? Just wait

by Richard Mason | July 31, 2022 at 2:12 a.m.

"This is one of the coolest summers we'll ever have." That short phrase from a weather forecaster, when added to a stack of scientific facts, tells me we are reaching the crisis stage in the warming of our planet's atmosphere a lot faster than previously predicted.

It seems our planet's weather systems are super-sensitive to steady small increases in the Earth's atmospheric temperature. This summer will pass and a cooler fall will make us forget how hot it was, but what if this is just the tip of the heat iceberg, and we will have scorching temperatures that are ever increasing in future summers?

Have you ever worked in heat reaching up to 130 degrees? I have, for 23 days in a row. Let me give you an overview of what climate change and rising temperatures will bring.

I spent two years in Libya in the early 1960s, and my job was to work in the desert on drilling rigs to evaluate the possible oil and gas zones the drilling encountered. The super-hot drill site was in the area of the Sahara called the Red Desert because of the mineral content of the sand. Normal white-sand desert reflects the sun's rays; the rose-colored sand soaks up the heat, resulting in a near world record for extreme temperatures of over 130 degrees.

I stepped off the plane into a blazing blast of hot air, and watched as a man in the base camp jumped in his Land Rover and drove out to pick me up. He was the Exxon drilling engineer and a fellow graduate of Norphlet High School in Arkansas. We drove to the on-site office trailer, and before I walked in, I glanced at an old RC Cola thermometer that was leaning against the trailer. It registered 120 degrees, which was the maximum.

The first thing you notice is the lack of any vegetation. Not even the toughest desert plants can live in that temperature. The drilling rig crews who worked on the rig floor were relieved numerous times during a daylight shift.

I wore cutoffs, a T-shirt, sunglasses and a Razorback baseball cap, but just walking back and forth from the air-conditioned trailer to the rig and back was about all I could do, and I was used to heat.

I don't think we are in for Sahara heat, at least not right now, but extreme hot weather is not the only harbinger of climate change. I recorded almost 12 inches of rain the first week in July in El Dorado, and a few miles southeast near Moro Bay there was almost 14 inches of rain. Lower Arkansas is becoming sub-tropical, and New Orleans is experiencing Central American weather.

Over the past five years we have seen abnormal weather related to the increase in global temperatures in our country, in Europe, and in China. In many areas the high temperatures are accompanied by extreme drought, which is reducing global food supplies.

Our west coast is suffering from an extended drought that has dropped water levels in source lakes to low levels. High temperatures, accompanied by extreme drought, contribute to the number of wildfires blazing across hundreds of thousands of forest acres around the world.

The ice pack on both poles is breaking up, permafrost is melting, and ocean waters are rising. Venice and other cities are on the verge of being swamped. The Atlantic hurricane season will peak in August and September. Will the record warm water of the Gulf of Mexico produce an increase in storms? Yes, says the National Hurricane Center. How many more hits can Lake Charles or Grand Isle take?

If you want to get shocked, check out the consequences of what we are experiencing right now. This should be a Pearl Harbor moment, but instead of banding together as a nation, we are playing politics again. I thought making covid-19 vaccinations political was the height of stupidity, but saying "I don't believe in global warming," when climate change is so obvious, takes the cake.

Congress finally has a bill that could at least help solve the problem, if Democratic (Mr. Coal of West Virginia) Sen. Joe Manchin holds to his agreement to vote for it. It seems that we are in a rarified atmosphere where political views are placed above credible scientific studies We are at almost 100 percent in agreement in the worldwide scientific communi- ty that the atmosphere of our planet is warming, and the predictions of steady increase in its temperature, if we do next to nothing, will increase until ... well?

If this climate response is what we get from just a few degrees of atmospheric increase, what can we expect from another five degrees? Or 10 degrees? According to several studies, that will mean widespread drought, increases in sea level, and catastrophic events such as wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes, and historic flooding.

The overwhelming predictions from the scientific community are clear. Vast areas of the Earth will become uninhabitable, starvation will send millions crossing borders in search of food, and diseases will swamp the hospitals. Will out-of-control climate change fulfill a Bible prophesy from the Book of Revelation--the four horsemen of the apocalypse?

Am I an alarmist? I hope so, but as an individual who has been in a business where you rely on scientific data to make decisions, I don't think so. If we sit by and let the atmosphere become warmer and warmer until conditions are destroying large pieces of our planet before we try to reverse the warming, we are faced with a tremendous uphill battle. We may have to go to extremes never even considered in today's effort to stop the temperature increase, and require even more strict controls to lower the atmospheric temperature.

An analysis by CNN's senior climate editor Angela Fritz is on the Internet: "Two years ago, forecasters in the UK conducted an interesting thought experiment. What will our forecasts look like in 2050?"

The official weather forecast agency for the UK came up with a forecast for July 2050. The actual weather in England last Monday and Tuesday was almost identical. The 2050 forecast became a reality 28 years early, and recently the temperature reached an all-time record of 104 degrees in Great Britain, where only 1 percent of the homes are air-conditioned. If that's not a wake-up call, what's it going to take?

We are just acting as if nothing is happening. Are we going to continue until we have destroyed parts of the Blue Planet by playing politics?

That's what it looks like to me.

Email Richard Mason at

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