Year 3, Month 11, Day 14: Semolina Pilchard?

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s energy writer, Thomas Content, is one of many to stir the climate-change pot a bit. His column for November 10 is titled “Climate change is here, even if election skipped it.” Indeed:

Neither climate change nor the wacky weather of 2012 stirred much attention during the presidential campaign – a couple of conflicting snippets during the political conventions, a brief line in President Barack Obama’s election night victory speech, a mention here or there.

But climate scientists say the record warm weather of the past year, punctuated by extreme events such as superstorm Sandy in the Northeast, provides a glimpse of things to come and should push the issue higher on the list of national priorities.

Already, businesses, households and governments in Wisconsin are dealing with some of the climate-related changes that scientists expect to proliferate as the planet warms.

The extremes that Wisconsin has experienced this year include a record warm winter, a severe drought that gripped much of the country, and widespread flash flooding in far northwestern Wisconsin.

“A lot of these things that we’re seeing are the kinds of things that we might expect more of in the future,” said Dan Vimont, climate scientist and leader of an ongoing research and public outreach project, the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts.

One can hope our culture will wake up. The comments on the article, however, are not encouraging. Sent November 12:

As climate change disrupts the regional ecologies in which they flourished, innumerable species of animals are migrating to new territories in search of food and resources. We can observe these shifts dispassionately, through the eyes of science — while recognizing that many of these adaptive behaviors are bad news for our own species and for the civilization we’ve built. While millions of acres of new territory to colonize is great news for the mountain pine beetle, there’s no upside for us in watching once-green forests turn into dessicated matchsticks waiting for a spark to surrender their trapped carbon to the atmosphere.

Our inability to address climate change — or even simply to acknowledge its existence in our national discussion — is the central failure of our age. While an insect or mammal species can move onward to a new ecological niche, humanity’s “niche” is Earth itself. Where shall we go when our planetary home no longer welcomes us?

It’s time for our politicians to do the math on climate change. Further delay is unacceptable.

Warren Senders

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