It has already been a bad decade for the Western United States, but it looks like it's about to get far worse. NOAA just released its images of the essentially vanished snowpack for 2014 in the western United States. Meanwhile, the Huffington Post ran a story about President Obama's return to Climate Change as his new focus for the next 18 months.
This drought is disturbing but we have been here before in 1986-1991, and 2002. The current one has been going on at least in California since about 2006, but many other western states have also had their drought episodes as well. The longest historical, continental US drought in the memory of its survivors occurred in the 1930s, lasted about 5-7 years, and covered 80% of the continental US. By some accounts, the current Western Drought is considered the worst in the last 500 years. According to a Columbia University study of the last 2000 years of droughts in the western United States, the California Droughts of 850 and 1140 AD lasted about 240 and 180 years respectively. Already, the 2013-14 rainfall season in California is shaping up to be the driest in over 400 years, based on tree ring data.
Is the current situation an example of Climate Change? Probably not, but then NO SINGLE METEOROLICICAL EVENT can be tied to long term climate change spanning a century or more. That's the frustration of the current situation at least politically. Because of this 'plausible deniability,' radical elements among us take this as a carte blanch to argue that all is well.
I find it very disturbing that for most American adults there has been a steadily declining belief that Climate Change is actually occurring. The Republican Party has in recent years managed to retract its official opinion that Climate Change is occurring, once lavishly asserted by President George Bush, but now denied as junk science by the new round of leaders.
Reporters looking for the next front-page story seem to avoid Climate Change as the chronic, weekly theme that it is, by favoring much more socially interesting stories. Even now when they could be starting to get ahead of this story they hold back. Take another hard look at the before and after snow pack pictures. Where do they think the 7 million people in the Bay Area are going to get fresh water in 2014-2015 while dealing with increased electrical costs and perhaps even brown-outs? Is this not a story that deserves more National focus?
The Great Conservative Thinkers such as George Will and Charles Krauthammer keep writing that scientists do not really know what is going on. Please give us the benefit of your PhDs in meteorology and climate science so we can learn about all the data you have, and supercomputer simulations you have performed on this subject. Actual scientists work on this subject 24/7/365. You stand up to this laser-focused attention with your one-hour GOOGLE searches to meet an editorial deadline. If you say Climate Change is a natural, periodic phenomenon, please tell me the period of this phenomenon. Please tell me, so I can put it to a test, and don't go back a million years to find a 'comparable'. Ice core, geological and climatological records show there never was one!
All of these trends point to increasing civic neglect that is consistent with the psychic condition of denial in which humans often process unpleasant news by denying its very existence. So it seems our society is reacting to Climate Change. It's too hard to do the difficult work today to soften the blow to our grandchildren, so we will continue to deny there is a 'provable' problem. History will judge us very poorly for the suffering we chose to inflict on our future citizens simply because we refused to take a few modest steps today.