Earth Day 2010: Weather Is Not the Climate

          Although I am a little late, everyday is a day to think about your ecological impact. On my 3rd Earth Day post, I am at 70% on gains and habit changes to limit my negative footprint. I’ve started or completed everything one responsible human being can do, and aside from further reductions on my improvement list (2008, 2009) I have one more big issue to tackle in my lifestyle.

          I hate to admit it, but I am addicted to paper towels. I use them as a hand dryer, a dish dryer, to clean (both cyclic and spontaneous), and in event of a shortage, as coffee filters or parrot cage liners. I compost those that are not exposed to toxic materials and I purchase only recycled 12 packs, but I’ve not been able to dispense with their ubiquitous use.

          I need to find an eco-suitable replacement. I am thinking a portable steam cleaner, Shamwow©, or other wipe-rag; but I will have to wash them with soap, using energy and creating wastewater. If I use a streamer, then I use energy to power it as well as to clean the steam cloths. I am going to have to further research rehab for my paper towel addiction.

          As a citizen of the human community, I’ve been thinking and reading about the debate on global warming or climate change. The nomenclature of the debate has changed, because warming and cooling are experienced as a regional effect of weather. Weather change is not climate change. Climate change is about consistent change over the entire globe over 30 years or more. Anthropogenic global warming (AGW) asks the question if human activity has an impact on climate change.

          Change is the only constant; everything changes all of the time. As temporal beings, the environment around us changes, the culture changes, beliefs change, and we personally change; so standing still is not reality or even an option. Even if you build a castle or impenetrable compound on an island in space you cannot escape change. As a human being, the range of our tipping point is the lifestyle we choose. It will shorten or lengthen our life, until we reach the inevitable tipping point, death and achieve a new state.

          I tend to stand with the scientific community. I think climate change is real and will drastically change our civilization. I am not making a moral statement. Change is inevitable and if it is good or bad has to do with local metaphysical conditions not actual scientific conditions. At least the scientific method seeks to dispel its theoretical beliefs. The most disturbing aspect to me about the debate is the refusal to accept the data for what it is either because we can’t possibly understand the trend nor have an impact on warming or reduction.

          American history provides an example of the first, the dust bowl. In the 1930’s poor farming practices to till the virgin topsoil of the northern prairies, and destroy the natural drought resistant grasses resulting in one of the greatest anthropogenic ecological catastrophes of all time. 100,000,000 million acres of soil dried out in a micro-drought and the winds stripped it off of the land in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and the surrounding plains creating a multi-state disaster zone, the dust bowl. Black blizzards of prairie dirt fell like snow on Chicago, Buffalo, Boston, New York City, and Washington D.C. In the following winter, red snow fell on New England. Those who were lucky enough not to die from malnutrition or dust pneumonia, 2.5 million people were forced to leave the plains.

          In ten short years, the rich grasslands of the great plains were reduced to deserts. Although the farmers didn’t intend to create a desert, human activity and a lack of knowledge created an ecological disaster on a grand scale.

          Squabbling over syntax, context, or semantics is a great way to avoid and stall the actual facts of a debate, but the facts remain and nothing changes in the debate either way. We are forced to answer the same questions over and over, like bureaucratic language and legalese, the tactic is to question all possibilities without knowing them, solving them, or even accepting responsibility for creating them.

          For example, anti-change proponents argue that local max/min imply a pattern over longer periods of time. To back up the argument, they claim that the range cannot be put in context because we can’t predict the weather. We experience hot/cold changes locally within a certain range of average temperatures including anomalies. This is weather change. Climate change is about consistently changing the range over longer periods of time, 30 or more years over all regions. Extreme local events do not to predict an overall trend, and assuming so is an informal fallacy. A regression fallacy is a special form Post hoc ergo proper hoc, “after this, therefore because of this.” The anti-change proponent regression fallacy attempts to predict future climate outcomes based on current local weather max/min conditions.

          Weather is not the same as climate. You have a choice, listen to talking points, fallacies and all, or do thorough research and come to your own conclusion. Change is inevitable, and you have absolute control over your perception.

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