Year 3, Month 8, Day 24: You Say Ee-ther, I Say Eye-ther…

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, in an editorial:

While those with vivid memories of weather during the Depression might take umbrage, it is now official that July 2012 was the hottest month ever in the United States.

So far, 2012 is the driest and hottest year in more than a century. Farmers are battling a drought estimated to cover 63 percent of the country. Crops are failing and livestock are being put down. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated half of all counties disaster areas and expects the lowest corn yield in 17 years. This soon will be reflected in higher food prices.

Meanwhile, wildfires have been a problem nationwide. Rivers are receding and exposing once dark river beds to direct sunlight. At the same time, heavy rains have hit parts of the United States, but the damage to crops and livestock has been done.

Writing July 28 in The New York Times, former climate-change skeptic Richard A. Muller conceded what most of the scientific community has already considered gospel — global warming is real. Mr. Muller now agrees that man-made carbon dioxide emissions are contributing to the rise in the planet’s temperature, but he also believes much of the extreme weather is the result of cyclical, natural forces.

While there will probably be an argument about the validity of global warming until the last polar bear drowns, the oppressive heat of July 2012 will be remembered for a long time — or until its record is broken.

That is to say, August. Sent August 13:

The scientific argument about the reality of planetary climate change was settled quite some time ago — well before the recent conversion of erstwhile skeptic Dr. Richard Muller. The overwhelming majority of the world’s climate scientists (ninety-seven percent, more or less) are in agreement on the issue, differing only in their interpretation of particular details.

Yes, there probably will “be an argument about the validity of global warming until the last polar bear drowns,” as your editor writes. Heck, there’ll probably be such an argument as long as there are enough humans to encompass a wide range of opinions and beliefs. But just because there’s an argument doesn’t mean that both sides have equivalent factuality. The Earth is not flat; astronauts actually landed on the moon; Elvis is dead; global warming is real, human-caused, and getting worse.

Without a responsible news media, the Jeffersonian ideal of “a well-informed citizenry” is unachievable — and if there ever was a time when we needed such a citizenry, it’s now.

Warren Senders

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