On Monday the daffodils in the next-door neighbor’s front yard emerged.
They are among the first plants to break through the soil and bloom with beautiful trumpet-like yellow flowers in the early to mid-spring. Daffodils let people in the Midwest know that the worst of winter has past and to expect warmer weather headed into summer.
But spring doesn’t start until March 20. The thin green arms of the daffodil plant are an indication of our out-of-whack weather.
Buzzards that normally don’t start circling the mid-Missouri skies until the warm weather hits in mid-March have started to show up this month. Hawks, which normally fly over Missouri and Kansas during the late fall and into the cooler weeks of early spring, have started to retreat to colder environs north of here.
These are more of nature’s signs that the weather patterns are changing, and that’s not good.
Global warming is causing oceans to rise faster than at any point in the last 2,800 years, and human consumption of fossil fuels and the greenhouse gases they produce are to blame, scientists reported Monday. That threatens island nations and coastal towns worldwide.
A paper released Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that if global greenhouse gas emissions continue at a high rate, ocean levels could rise as much as 3 to 4 feet by 2100 as ice melts in Greenland, Antarctica and other polar regions.
Scientists predict that conditions will worsen in the 22nd century and afterward, requiring people worldwide to retreat from many coastal communities. This is precisely why the United Nations climate change summit took place in December 2015 in Paris. It was to bring the nations of the world together to enact a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
But three problems stand in the way. One is scientists aren’t sure whether the Earth is past the point of no return on climate change. The other is many people — particularly some lawmakers — refuse to accept that human consumption of fossil fuels is responsible for the problem. A third is developing nations want their turn to use fossil fuels to industrialize their economies as the U.S. and European nations have.
Climate change is forecast to have a devastating effect on the planet, causing droughts to worsen and spread, wildfires to increase, weather patterns to shift affecting farming communities, storms to become more violent, sea levels to rise, tidal floods to occur, species to become extinct and more people to become climate change refugees. All of it will cost billions of dollars in lost production and property damage.
Global temperatures have climbed about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit since the 19th century largely because of human consumption of fossil fuels and the greenhouse gas emissions from it. Getting people to believe that will be one of humanity’s greatest challenges.
Finding the political will worldwide to act to reduce fossil fuel consumption and shift to green, renewable energy sources will be another of the biggest problems of this century and the next.