We heard a cardinal sing on February 1st, heralding the first sign of spring in our neighborhood. Five days later, daffodils pushed through the thawing soil about a mile from our home. The Des Moines River has been ice-free for a week, and the ice on the Raccoon River is on the verge of breaking.
On February 2nd, Punxsutawney Phil announced (through interpreters, of course) that America should expect six more weeks of winter. Here in Des Moines, after signs of an early spring and eight days with high temperatures ranging from 42 to 62 degrees, some have called into question our most famous groundhog’s credibility.
Face it: America needs a new groundhog. More to the point, we need new mechanisms for assessing and understanding what is happening to our climate and, as a result, our planet and our civilization.
To be clear, isolated warm-weather “events,” such as the ones we note above, cannot be cited as evidenc e of climate change. Conversely, neither does unseasonably cool weather dismiss climate change. We have to look at the big picture, the global picture. Despite what some skeptics say, the consensus is in. Global climate change is a reality. How we monitor it and, more important, how we respond to it, will determine the viability of our future.
Across the globe, a new generation of climate-change groundhogs is rising to the challenge. One website that’s been very helpful to us is http://www.realclimate.org/. Another is http://www.idealbite.com/.
In Iowa, two activities over the next week can help educate us about climate change. The first is this weekend in Iowa City, sponsored by Physicians for Social Responsibility. The second is Monday in Des Moines, where experts will summarize the work of the Iowa Climate Change Advisory Council. See below for details.
We hope you can attend one or both of these events, and please spread the word. Thanks.
Ed & Lynn Fallon
February 13 & 14 – Power-lines to the Future
A conference organized by Physicians for Social Responsibility at the
International Center, Old Capitol Town Center Mall, Iowa City. PSR hopes to encourage Iowans, especially those involved in the health professions, to become more informed and actively engaged in confronting the gravest health challenges of our time. For more information, visit www.iowa-psr.org/pl/pl_home.html.
February 16 – Iowa Climate Change Briefing and Discussion
Sponsored by about twenty organizations and agencies, this meeting will present the highlights of the Iowa Climate Change Advisory Council’s recent report. It’s at the State Historical Building, 600 E. Locust, Des Moines, from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. Contact Senator Joe Bolkcom at firstname.lastname@example.org or (319) 353-2681.