Letter from the Editor 

tndo.jpg

The recent tornado in Joplin, Missouri, my home state, was a sobering reminder that, despite advance warnings and fancy Doppler radar, there is little anyone can do if a massive tornado delivers a direct strike — except hide and hope.

Last weekend, an article by the Associated Press called "Questions and Answers About Tornadoes" ran in newspapers around the country, including The Commercial Appeal. The article noted that this year was "extraordinarily bad," with the highest tornado death toll of any year on record.

The next question the AP addressed was: "Can the intensity of this year's tornadoes be blamed on climate change?" According to the AP: "Probably not." No sources were given for that absurd claim.

The earth is indisputably getting warmer. Nine of the last 10 years have been the hottest on record. Glaciers and Arctic ice fields are melting. Sea levels are rising. The world's climate scientists say that a warmer earth means more moisture in the air, which means more dramatic weather swings, more drought, more flooding, bigger storms.

Consider: Parts of Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico are experiencing drought conditions worse than those of the Dust Bowl years. There were record snowfall and rainfall amounts across much of the upper Midwest, which brought record flooding to the South. The Amazon basin has just gone through its second "100-year drought" in the last five years. A heat wave last summer destroyed much of Russia's grain crops. There have been record mega-floods in Australia, New Zealand, and Pakistan this year. And, of course, April's wave of tornadoes in the U.S. was the worst on record. That's just a partial list of weather anomalies cited by the Global Climate Campaign's Bill McKibben in a recent Washington Post article.

There are those, of course, who argue that the earth has always gone through cycles of warming and cooling. Glaciers once covered much of North America. Skeptics say that modern man's loading of the atmosphere with carbon from fossil fuels has nothing to do with the fact that the planet is getting warmer. They say it's natural, and there is nothing we can do but try to adapt.

If so, we'd better get used to more floods, more frequent and powerful tornadoes and hurricanes, record annual snowfalls, long droughts, withering heat waves — and less beachfront property. We can't do anything about it, so we just need to watch the Doppler and hope for the best and take what we've got coming to us. Science is for sissies, right?

Bruce VanWyngarden

brucev@memphisflyer.com

Comments (24)

Showing 1-24 of 24

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-24 of 24

Add a comment

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Blogs

Music Blog

Listen Up: Louise Page

News Blog

Suit Targets 'Destructive' Drivers License Policy

Film/TV/Etc. Blog

mother!

News Blog

Supreme Court Steps In on Fayette Church Matter

Intermission Impossible

Muhammad Ali Meets Stepin Fetchit at The Hattiloo Theatre

News Blog

Task Force Considers Medical Cannabis

News Blog

Trolleys Return to the Tracks for Testing

Music Blog

Jessi Zazu: In Memoriam

ADVERTISEMENT

More by Bruce VanWyngarden

Readers also liked…

  • Fake News Uses You

    • Jun 8, 2017
  • Common Sense Pot Policy

    Unlike Bill Clinton, I've inhaled. So have 49 percent of all Americans, according to a recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Marijuana (medical or otherwise) has been decriminalized or legalized in 23 states, and measures are on the ballot to legalize it in five more states this November, including Arizona, Nevada, Massachusetts, Maine, and California (where medical pot is already legal). A recent Gallup poll found that 53 percent of Americans think pot should be legalized and regulated like alcohol ...
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • Why The Fuss?

    • Nov 17, 2016
ADVERTISEMENT
© 1996-2017

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation