You know it’s serious when the pope calls for action

On the Ball column by Craig Lindsay, Sept. 9 Grand Forks Gazette.

Unless you are an American Republican candidate, you probably believe that climate change is a real thing. You can look around and see how pollution in its many forms is making the earth warmer and contributing to less snow, less rain and increased drought conditions, which makes wildfires much more likely to occur. The only question that is hard to answer is exactly to what extent is the climate changing due to human’s reliance of gas and oil and heavy industry.

In an article published on the Oregon State website, oregonstate.edu, Kathie Dello, deputy director of the Oregon Climate Service, and Nathan Gilles of the Climate Change Research Institute said about the Paradise Fire in coastal Washington’s Olympic National Park, “The first piece of our drought puzzle has to do with snow. Last winter was warm and dry. What little precipitation we had fell as rain, not snow. Let’s call this the ‘snow drought.’ The second piece is the warm and dry spring that followed. It was dry enough to layer its own impact on the snow drought. The third piece, where we are now, the very hot, dry summer we’re experiencing. Add the three pieces together and you’ve got a recipe for a rainforest to burn and our rain-fed coastal watersheds to be in drought. Our region’s cities are also starting to see the impacts of drought.”

They add that a summer like this one, with blazing temperatures and little rain, add additional demand to all water systems.

The Oregon Climate Change Research Institute at Oregon State University forecasts that by the middle of this century, the northwest is expected to be about 3° C warmer, on average, than it is today.

Our Canadian government says that, “There is a very strong body of evidence, based on a wide range of indicators, that climate change is occurring, and the climate system is warming. The evidence includes observed increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global sea levels.”

They say that the climate change can be largely attributed to human activity, primarily the release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. In Canada, over 80 per cent of total national greenhouse gas emissions are associated with the production or consumption of fossil fuels for energy purposes.

Like with the wildfires and smoke that threatened us a week ago, the worst part is the feeling of helplessness. There’s not much you can do against a raging fire or choking smoke other than getting the heck out of dodge. Climate change feels the same way. What can I do about it? Especially when governments are so loathe to follow any sort of greenhouse gas limiting protocols. But if even 10 per cent of the people in the world changed some of their habits, I bet it would make a big difference and would be a start.

The government website climatechange.gc.ca mentions 10 things people can do to help including reducing energy use, walking and biking whenever possible, insulating your home and recycling regularly.

And, of course, be sure to contact your local government representatives and tell them to urge their governments to enact real environmental change.

There are still some people out there that deny climate change but it’s getting harder to do that with the growing body of evidence. When even the pope calls for action against global warming you know it’s serious.