By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News
Posted 1/19/16 (Tue)
Many of us have had recent debates about global warming. This isn’t just going on in some office building in New York City, it’s happening on the North Dakota prairie as well.
Does global warming exist or doesn’t it? Is the earth getting warmer or isn’t it? Have the earth’s oceans become deeper because the ice caps are melting? Was the moon landing a conspiracy?
There are all kinds of arguments for and against global warming. It’s good to see that people are passionate about it. Debate is good in democracy until despondent people started smashing windows and lighting cars on fire.
There’s one scientist who has been on Canadian television for 45 years, telling us of global warming and other environmental issues.
Dr. David Suzuki is known around the world for his research into global warming. He says it’s happening and that the earth has warmed one degree Celsius since 1900.
A recent summit in Paris in November brought more than 180 nations together to talk about global warming and what they can do to stop it.
Our illustrious Secretary of State, John Kerry, signed on to the legislation, but has said little to the American public about what might be done and how the United States is bound to this contract.
Spain, on the other hand, has moved immediately to take steps to shift its focus to more green energy.
Denmark put global warming into perspective 10 years ago when it started mass producing wind turbines off the coast.
So here we are in the United States, arguing that it’s all made up like the moon landing.
As a reporter, I have to look at it from a numbers perspective. Whether I believe in global warming or not, is irrelevant, the issue is what is the math telling us that we had best not ignore.
Dr. Suzuki is not a kook. He provided a number, albeit a small one, that things are changing.
The Arctic Ocean is larger than it used to be, there are days in the High Arctic when the temperature will reach well into the 70s during summer. There are places in Alaska that never freeze and the list goes on.
Here in North Dakota in our microclimate, we’ve seen statistical changes too.
Some of our warmest winters have only been in recent years.
If you look at the history of weater related recordkeeping that goes back to the early 1880s, you’ll find some striking changes.
Most of the record low temperatures will have happened before the turn of the century.
Have you ever been in the Pembina State Museum? I suggest you go sometime and take a look at some of the documented information there.
People across North Dakota had to live differently in the 1880s and 1890s because winters were far colder (on average) than they are now.
Many of you can remember as farm kids, having to stay with a family in town because there was a pretty good chance the road would be drifted shut for the duration of winter and there is no way a school bus could get to your house.
That sort of arrangement went on until about 20 years ago. I doubt there is anybody who does that now because they don’t have to do it.
This El Nino phenomenon that we are experiencing this winter is not new, but it seems to be happening more frequently than it did even 20 and 30 years ago. Since it began in 1950, it happened once every eight or 10 years. Now, it’s happening sometimes every other year.
And when it doesn’t happen, winters aren’t nearly as cold as they were 100 years ago.
There’s more people, there’s more internal combustion engines, there’s more buildings to absorb sunlight and more pavement to absorb sunlight and keep the earth slightly warmer than it used to be.
The winters we’re having now in North Dakota, are what people in Kansas experienced 50 years ago.
I hope that means something to some people. This isn’t made up like some people think the moon landing was.
When you look at numbers; daytime highs and overnight lows; and you average them out, you’re going to come up with something similar to what Dr. Suzuki has already announced to the free world, that averages are climbing ever so slowly.
We find the same information in North Dakota and we find it in Kansas.
So those who argue against global warming, better come up with some proof to balance this.