Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal, which seems to have morphed into Rubert Murdoch’s effort to recreate Fox News in print, ran what Ed Kilgore calls the “climate-change deniers’ greatest-hits edition”:
In these turgid lines can be found a treasure trove of prevarications. You’ve got your impressive-sounding list of scientists agreeing with the Journal (with no corresponding list of those who disagree; the newsprint or bandwith necessary to publish those would bankrupt even the WSJ). You’ve got your quote marks around the term global warming. You’ve got your allusions to the silly “Climategate” kerfuffle. And you’ve got your unsubstantiated allegations of “persecution” of the brave “heretics” who dare stand with poor, puny Industry against the awesome power of academics.
Well and good. Most of us know where the editorial page at the WSJ is coming from. For those who don’t, who think that this contrived tripe means that scientists are really “uncertain” about human caused climate change, a couple of articles in yesterday’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch suggest that they’ll be in for a rude awakening sometime over the next couple of decades.
The first article in the Post-Dispatch confirms the impression of many of locals that the St. Louis area really has been getting warmer. The USDA has kicked the region up a notch on its planting zone map. While the article describes this change as positive – gardeners can now overwinter more delicate subtropical plants – it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that there could also be negative implications for traditional crops as well as for crop pests that can thrive when winters are warmer, especially if this is only the beginning of a warming trend.
The second article notes that the on-going drought in the Southwest is one of the reasons for rising beef prices. Many climate scientists believe that such droughts, which have afflicted the area since 2001, will become the norm over time as warming accelerates.
These two casual pieces of reporting should not only concern those lulled into complacency by climate denialism, but those as well who acknowledge that warming is taking place, but think it is too expensive to do what is necessary to mitigate its effects. For instance, on the topic of drought, scientists warn that:
… climate warming will exacerbate water sustainability problems, the Southwest is likely to experience some of the highest economic expenses and environmental losses.
Nor are the risks of drought confined to the Southwest. Many climate-change models predict that as many as 87% of Missouri’s counties “will face higher risks of water shortages by mid-century as the result of climate change.” The new USDA map is one of the first indications that the process of warming is underway.
Senator Claire McCaskill often claims that she opposes meaningful efforts to control carbon emissions because of the it might increase energy costs and stress economically challenged Missouri families. Politicians like Blaine Luetkemeyer work hard to keep farmers worried over probably baseless threats that controlling carbon emissions will increase costs. No Missouri politicians seem to be worried about just how expensive doing nothing could very well be.
Even if dire claims about increased expense that will follow from effort to mitigate carbon emissions aren’t, at the very least, highly exaggerated, they still represent short-term thinking in the face of a long-term march to disaster. I hope that the same Missouri families and farmers remember who misled them when they have to pony up to deal with the far more expensive problems attendant upon escalating climate change.
*Inadvertently omitted text restored to first sentence of last paragraph.