Whither the Weather?

It was Mark Twain who, many moons ago, said, “Everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it.”

The almost universal assumption was that the quality of the weather was determined by forces beyond human control. That seemingly self-evident view is no longer held either by scientists or by the public according to a New York Times/CBS News Poll. Their consensus is that global warming is a verifiable fact and that something must be done about it within the next 20 to 30 years or life on earth for humans will become impossible.

The threat is embodied in a phenomenon called global warming. As the earth warms up, the glaciers in the Arctic Circle and the Antarctic begin to melt. As a consequence, the ocean levels rise. All areas in the world that abut oceans and their tributaries, like the Mediterranean, are endangered.

The rise in the world’s waterways is, however, just one out of several environmental dangers. The melting glaciers in the Antarctic have, ironically, brought freezing weather to people living east of the Mississippi. Snowfalls that used to be measured in inches are, now, being measured in feet. Here’s why and how:

The melting of icebergs in the Antarctic has lowered the temperature of the Gulf Stream that, in the past, served to moderate the winter weather along our eastern states. Ironically, the inhabitants of states on the Atlantic coast were exposed to wicked winters this year because of global warming.

There are some learned folk who maintain that what is happening is not due to human pollution. They note that way back in time, when Homo sapiens were not around to pollute, there were successive waves of freezing known as “ice ages” attributable to spots on the sun. This may be true. But it is irrelevant. It may be that nature by itself is likely to move from cool to warm and vice versa. But that does not negate the negative impact of man’s polluting ways.

One of the more encouraging developments on the way to pollution control is a decision of the U.S. Supreme Court that held that the U.S. government had the right to ban the use of greenhouse gases.

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