Living the good climate change life


There’s a little love for Hibbing in today’s New York Times map showing that climate change is already here. Is it enough to shock deniers into caring?

Over the last 20 years, Hibbing is 3.1 degrees warmer than earlier in the 20th century. Good? It’s cold in Hibbing. Too cold. It was a miserable winter, and the spring, when the wind whips over the world’s largest open pit iron mine, isn’t any better. Hibbing knows a little something about ruining the land to make a living, so using it as the yardstick of the danger of climate change is ironic. People are just now getting the bills for winter heating and in the aftermath of the propane shortage in these parts, 3 degrees isn’t enough for a lot of people.

Yesterday’s report documenting the right-now dangers of climate change presents all kinds of conflicts locally. In the right-now, it could be a win for farmers. Because of warmer temperatures and increased carbon dioxide, crop yields are increasing. Farmers have made a great living around here in the last few years; better than they did when the climate was better off.

The report says these gains have been offset by heat and drought here, but check the crop reports over the last two years. They haven’t been. Times are good in most fields in Minnesota.

With less ice, the shipping season in the Great Lakes is extended now. Yahtzee! That’s jobs and money.

Eventually, things will catch up with the good times here. There’ll be more heat and more droughts, more pine beetles, fewer fish to catch, more hail and storms. But in the meantime, it’s pretty easy to ignore the fact California is burning, the southwest is returning to its desert roots and the Plains — the nation’s breadbasket — is the home to increasing stories of failed crops and broken dreams.

But for now, it might be easier to embrace the local climate change riches, than acknowledge the long term realities. The New York Times notes today, we Americans aren’t real good at reality.

Americans rarely cite environmental concerns when asked in polls to name the most important problem facing the country. In the last several years, the economy, jobs, the budget deficit and health care garnered the most mentions, with the environment barely registering. In the Pew poll, fewer Americans cited climate change as a top threat than cited financial instability, Islamic extremism, Iran’s nuclear program or North Korea’s nuclear program.

Will the report make any difference in the nation’s discussion of climate change?

Good one.

“This is a political document intended to frighten Americans into believing that any abnormal weather we experience is the direct result of human CO2 emissions,” said House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, Texas Republican. “It’s disappointing that the Obama administration feels compelled to stretch the truth in order to drum up support for more costly and unnecessary regulations and subsidies.”

If things get bad, we can always head for Hibbing.

From the archive: Climate change and the TV meteorologist (NewsCut)