Take Climate Change — Please [Opinion]

Take Climate Change — Please [Opinion]

david eddyIf ever a joke didn’t work in print, that headline is it. It’s a takeoff on the signature joke by the late comedian Henny Youngman. He would, in an entirely normal conversational tone, say “Take my wife,” and wait just a beat — precisely the correct amount of time — before adding “Please.”

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Even though it was late in the great comedian’s career when I first heard the joke, and he’d probably told it thousands of times, I roared. I thought it was genius; my own wife, not so much.

But the part about climate change is apt. You’d feel the same way if you’d spent as much time as I have researching the topic for this month’s cover story. I soon realized any attempt I would make at helping fruit growers with how to prepare for the changes that many think are occurring, as well as those that yet may unfold, would be futile.

Simply not enough space, and even then I couldn’t presume I wouldn’t be wildly off base. Predicting the future, when Mother Nature has the last say? Laughable.

And if that weren’t impossible enough, I soon discovered the semantics were an almost insurmountable problem. That’s because when most people talk about climate, they are actually referring to weather. It’s just human nature. People say, “It’s a beautiful day.” Not: “It’s a beautiful millennium.”

As we know, climates change over time for a number of reasons, but even the lengths of climatic ages can vary wildly. According to a definition by the World Meteorological Association, they are just 30 years.

That seems too short to me. I mean, I was around 30 years ago, and I don’t recall it being that dissimilar. It’s not like there were dinosaurs walking around. Now that sounds like a different climate.

But the preponderance of scientific evidence shows that it has indeed gotten warmer in the past 30 years. Not much, perhaps, but if you go back say 150 years, the evidence gets very weighty indeed.

The problem, like I say, is human nature. I grew up on the East Coast, and we rarely got a White Christmas. We’d get snow before Christmas, sure. I recall one year when I had to deliver 40-odd Thanksgiving newspapers bulging with ads in a driving snowstorm. But it seemed like the snow usually melted before Christmas, if we got any December snow at all.

But over the past few years, they have a White Christmas every year. Many of my relatives back there say “Global warming — are you nuts?”

Which leads us back to the semantics. With climate, you’re not talking a couple years, a couple White Christmases. That’s weather.

The best way I found to explain it was a quote believed to be first uttered sometime in the 1800s. Like a lot of great quotes, especially from that era, it has been attributed to Mark Twain. But the people who spend a lot of time looking into such things couldn’t prove it, and in fact couldn’t attribute it to any one person. Like a lot of great sayings, I think it’s a distillate of a lot of contributors.

Anyway, this is it: “The Climate Is What You Expect; The Weather Is What You Get.”

In other words, a few years of the Polar Vortex in the Eastern U.S. does not mean that global warming is a myth. The climate is warming. Even if you don’t believe it, the rest of the world does, including your buyers. And as everyone knows, they have the last word. ●

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Ran Newman. says:

great , but he doesn’t approach the main subject of controversy , which is —-what percent is natural occurance , and what part is man made…….maybe he doesn’t want to stick his neck out that far

Ellen says:

Ran, let me ask you this, why does it matter? The way I look at it is either way it’s changing faster that we can adjust so that is a problem. Let’s just say hypothetically it’s changing and man is NOT part of the cause but will be adversely effected. Should we do nothing to slow the change and just close our eyes and wait for the sledge hammer to hit us between the eyes? I think we have not made the issue clear to people. Where do we relocate all our major seaside cities to, who pays the cost, we already are in debt as a country can we afford to relocate New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Miami, Boston, Los Angeles and all points in between and is the mid West going to turn over their farms so we can re-settle these people? What about the tide of refuges from other countries with major cities located on coastlines which will flood into the country? Really who’s fault it is, is irrelevant at this point. We need to act and the sooner the better.

This whole article is NUTS. It is giving cover to climate skeptics by conducting a poll among farmers and those of us involved in agriculture…who yes live close to nature, but are not mobil and global in their perspective. And we are certainly not the people studying this….the climatologists. As a former air pollution chemist and now international consultant to governments and the FAO in Rome (and others) I see things differently than I did when I just was associated with American agriculture. It’s just not logical to think that 7 billion people on this planet DON’T make a difference in our climate. If the population stayed the same, and it won’t, we would need 4.1 earths to provide the resources necessary for all those 7 billion people to have what we have in the US…our iPhones, automobile/pickup truck lifestyles, vacation possibilities, choices of foods and products flown/shipped in from all over the world. And believe me those billions in China and India want our lifestyle and they are working to get it.
We are only 5% of the world’s population yet we use 20- 25% of the fossil fuels, an unfair share of all the commodities and contribute to 40% of the global wastes. We need to cut back, produce more renewable energy and buy just what we need (including my iPhone and I NEED that one). But I have many things I could do without. We need to set a better example or I’m very concerned that even in our lifetimes we could reach a point of no return. There are a number of scenarios for a runaway tipping point and the prospects are so scary….well why take a chance with our children’s future? If it doesn’t happen…fine. Great to be wrong. But we can still live with a high standard of living and not consume quite so much.

Oh about those White Christmas’ ? Well now living in Northern Europe for my work, I can tell you that during those 2 colder than normal winters in most of the US/Canada…well it was much much warmer in places that even a few years ago saw more than a meter of snow per season. The Polar Vortex just slipped over North America. The rest of the northern hemisphere was warmer. It’s easy to forget that even if all the US were colder than average, and it wasn’t-only parts of it- well the US still makes up only 11% of the globe’s surface. It’s the world’s statistical averages that matter and the world is getting warmer way too fast. But as I said….it would be surprising with 7 billion people…if it did NOT.

Timoteo says:

I am skeptical of anyone that advances an idea from which they directly benefit. It seems to me that many of the scientists, academics and bureaucrats are feeding from the public trough. If climate change is as certain and as scary as claimed, then it will take trillions of dollars over generations to solve. Many millions, perhaps hundreds of millions, will be returned to these very same advocates. One has only to read the recently exposed, private emails of the top scientists at the IPCC to get a flavor of the protective, defensive and self-serving discussions surrounding the critical data points of global climate change. As I make decisions (read: roll the dice) about my future in agriculture, you’ll forgive me if I am dubious about interpretation of data from ice cores, tree rings and polar bears by people who prosper on my tax contributions.

Ellen says:

Timoteo, think about what you just stated, “I am skeptical of anyone that advances an idea from which they directly benefit. It seems to me that many of the scientists, academics and bureaucrats are feeding from the public trough.” scientists and academics don’t make millions and the ones that do, the bureaucrats, are against doing anything to solve the issue because they get kickbacks from big business and the oil cartels. So if a scientist says we have a problem and I am intelligent enough to read the data and understand it and it shows warming, I’m going to place my bet with him or her. Now you on the other hand state “As I make decisions (read: roll the dice) about my future in agriculture, you’ll forgive me if I am dubious about interpretation of data from ice cores, tree rings and polar bears by people who prosper on my tax contributions.” but you seem to want to trust the folks that make the money by telling you what you want to believe I.E. there is no problem. Because I said so and I don’t get paid through your taxes I make billions each year by pushing fossil fuels! Timoteo, your future in Agriculture is short. one life time but your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will pay the price if your hate of government overrules your ability to read the data and make a decision by what it shows.

Timoteo says:

It is absolutely true that big business profits from the climate change largess coming from government. Why would I need to state the obvious? It’s what they do and they make no claim to virtue by and large. “Scientists and academics don’t make millions.” Obvious in part. Also obvious; the hundreds of millions flowing from government to research universities is their whole reason for existence. Human nature and psychology tells me that the money influences the outcome. Not in every laboratory but in total. You have heard the argument that the “consensus of science” or the “scientific concensus” is that climate change is settled fact. (Yes I know the distinction of anthropomorphic climate change.) I am dying to hear how this “scientific concensus” disproves my point.

On a personal note, I have been called many names – climate change denier – but I have never called the other side a bunch of lemmings rushing headlong over a cliff into an ocean of money. (Insert smiley face here.)

Doug says:

Consider the messengers who insist that Global Warming is caused by man and that we must “do something” to reverse it. What are their prescriptions for making this change? Reduce fossil fuel use? How many of them are proponents of nuclear power production (which is the only viable alternative right at this moment of ‘crisis’). How many of them have stopped driving cars, flying in jets, air conditioning their homes and offices?

A wise man has said, and I repeat often: I will believe it is a crisis when the people who tell me it’s a crisis act like THEY believe it’s a crisis.

Bill Parks says:

Doug – great point when are these climate change advocates going to walk to their next meeting rather than fly or drive .