Sunday, February 20, 2011

on Montana and global warming

A Montana legislator who shall remain nameless (because I don't have his name right in front of me now but who represents to a great extent the general thinking of his party in Helena), has introduced a bill to proclaim global warming a benefit to the state and would order the state to cease all effort to combat it. An in-state scientist has said, in essence, that the legislator is blowing smoke,that scientific studies have basically proved that humans are directly responsible for the current global climate. However, it is true that over the past 2,000 years there have been significant climate changes so that at one stage glaciers spread out again in Europe and in another people were able to live in Greenland and grow crops there for several centuries before the cold returned. What those people who accept that thinking are rejecting are numerous studies reported in scientific journals that point out that the carbon dioxide content of the air is the largest that has been seen in 30,000 years (from ice and ocean coring). In the middle of the 1980s, which the anti climate change people claim to have heard predictions about an upcoming ice age, I remember an article in, I think, Science 86, which predicted the actual changes we have seen in Montana, longer but drier warm periods and warmer winters. And the big question again this year is Are we out of the drought yet?

The unmentionable legislator cites global warming as having beneficial effects in increase crop growth with the additional carbon dioxide. Yet, it will. But what he doesn't say is that the bulk for the crop growth will go into the body of the plant and not the seeds and roots that are so important for human development. Scientists have made some experiments which indicated that the grain may be more plentiful but the loss of nutrient value will make that a negligible effect and may mean that that there will be even more widespread hunger than already exists in this world. The U.S. has a rather high percentage (for our wealth) of hungry people and Africa is starving in almost all its equatorial areas. But again, the people of Montana, those who have moved into the state within the past 100 years, don't seem to have enough between the ears to realize that their livelihoods may hang on curbing the warming effect. They don't seem to realize that this part of the country was so dry it was virtually uninhabitable before about the 17th Century. That's why the land was empty when the Crows, Cheyenne and Blackfeet were able to move into it.


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