Global Warming is happening despite the deniers' appeals - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Global Warming is happening despite the deniers’ appeals

It appears science has predicted the date of the end of the world. Not really a date, but a year: 2047. That’s just a short … (doing the math) … 34 years from now.

The author at Mission Beach  in San Diego, with his Trusty Trek bicycle. (Photo by Tim Forkes)

The author at Mission Beach in San Diego, with his Trusty Trek bicycle.
(Photo by Tim Forkes)

My friend Phil and I were talking about it and wondered, how would we survive? Both of us would be elderly, I would be over 90 and he over 100, so could Phil and I stand the heat?

Now, many of you are thinking, “You’ll be dead by then, you simpletons!”

Yes, that’s possible, but with medical advancements being what they are, Phil and I could very well live to be 130 or more, provided we both get new tickers and a few other replacements for our weathered organs.

Livers in particular. Phil and I both misspent our youth trying to empty every brewery and distillery that caught our fancies via the various local watering holes we frequented in our never ending quest for liquid enlightenment.

At any rate, there was this article in our local newspaper, the esteemed San Diego Union-Tribune, from the doubly esteemed Associated Press about scientists completing a new global warming study that pinpoints the years various cities and ecosystems will experience extremely hotter environments than we are now experiencing.

Science predicts Kingston, Jamaica will be one of the first cities to experience this trend, in about 10 years. Really? With the melting of the ice caps and glaciers, wouldn’t Kingston be under water first? Just asking.

The study says San Diego will be extremely hotter by 2046, just a year before the entire planet reaches the tipping point. But I gotta ask, won’t a good portion of San Diego be under water by then, like Kingston, Jamaica?

Let me just say: I do not doubt global warming is real nor do I doubt it is largely, mostly, due to humankind’s overuse of fossil fuels; coal, petroleum and natural gases. This is not new.

Back in the 1980’s when I was with the esteemed Crazy Shepherd/Shepherd Express, we had on a regular rotation various journalists writing about the various ways we are destroying our planet. Much of what they predicted 25-30 years ago has, for the most part, come true.

The Crystal Pier at Pacific Beach in San Diego. (Photo by Tim Forkes)

The Crystal Pier at Pacific Beach in San Diego.
(Photo by Tim Forkes)

Global warming is real and it is getting worse exponentially.

But here’s the thing: last year this esteemed online publication became interested in me after reading my blog about what global warming was doing to the local climate here in Sunny Sandy Eggo. You can read it HERE.

In a nutshell, that post was about how the women at the annual Over-the-Line Tournament were over dressed, as compared to previous years. This was due to the unusually cold and cloudy conditions for mid-July, when the temps were usually so hot everyone and his brother and sister was walking around in thong bikinis and translucent board shorts.

The board shorts were still in attendance, but quite frankly the temps were so cool I decided not to wear my tight little Speedos and opted for some Baggies, i.e. cargo shorts.

The unusually cooler temps are due to a change in the seasonal “upwelling” of the ocean currents along the West Coast. It’s somewhat detailed in last year’s post so you can read it all there.

My concern with this new study is this: my experience here has been that due to global warming the summers are getting unusually cooler. But the study says that in 2046 the “… [San Diego] temperatures will exceed historical extremes recorded in the past 150 years.”

These new extreme conditions will become the norm, according to the study.  So I asked the leader of the study, Dr. Camilo Mora, an assistant professor of biogeography at the University of Hawaii, about the difference in my anecdotal observations and the conclusions of his report. His reply:

“Every model has their own internal variability, which include periods of cooling over a long term trend of warming. Warming is a consistent process on the face of greenhouse gases but it does not mean that there will be instances and places where other factors are going to be stronger and move the climate in other directions.”

In other words: San Diego will indeed get warmer. The changes in the ocean that contribute to the unseasonal cooling will eventually change so much that we will again be in a warming trend.

In Another Study, this one at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, scientists have concluded that the effects of global warming will change the various ocean ecosystems so much it will be massively destructive to humanity, especially the 800,000,000-plus people that live close to and depend on the oceans for their lives.

A ANSA photo of the Mississippi River Delta with sediment plumes. (Photo courtesy of Wiki Commons)

A ANSA photo of the Mississippi River Delta with sediment plumes.
(Photo courtesy of Wiki Commons)

As for the rise in sea level, the science tells us coastal communities like Venice, Italy and Coastal San Diego will be “… claimed by the oceans,” as National Geographic put it recently — before the year 2100.

The Mississippi River Delta will be mostly gone, although that won’t be entirely due to global warming. The Mississippi Delta suffers the effect of having so many dams and levies that change the natural flow it too is having an effect on the fragile ecosystem. But we’ve known that for decades. Save Nawlins or save the Delta … tough choice. I always did like Mardi Gras.

Then of course you add an oil spill like we saw with the Deepwater Horizon in April 2010 …

Human “advancement” has had a disastrous effect on the Mississippi River Delta as well as the Gulf of Mexico and global warming is just exacerbating it.

Through the various studies done on global warming and its effect on the oceans in particular, we know the sea level is rising at about .14 inches a year. That’s not much, except that it’s rising exponentially, which means in ten years the average could be an inch or more, give or take a few milliliters.

A crowded Pacific Beach in San Diego on a nice summer day. (Photo by Tim Forkes)

A crowded Pacific Beach in San Diego on a nice summer day.
(Photo by Tim Forkes)

So we figure that in the past ten years the Pacific Ocean has eaten up and inch-and-a-half of Mission and Pacific Beaches, along with all the other beaches that line Southern California’s coast. To be honest, I haven’t really noticed and believe you me, I’ve looked.

We have several piers in San Diego that jut out into the Pacific so if there was any great change in the ocean’s level, it would be easily visible on any of the piers.

We just don’t see it. At this point it isn’t enough to be noticeable, unless, like the researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, you were putting highly sophisticated and sensitive measuring devices in the water. So why care?

A lot of reasons. Due to the shift in the upwelling season, the water temperatures change. Local species that need a certain water temperature leave and new species come into the area. According to the studies done by the University of Hawaii and Scripps, as waters in the tropics get too warm for some species, they travel north (or south) for more habitable ecosystems.

This in turn interferes with the native species and the once balanced food chain is then out of balance.

We see this sort of thing happen when non-native species of animals are introduced to ecosystems that do not offer any natural predators for the invasive species. They populate an area, killing, eating or driving out the native species and eventually the ecosystem changes; often they “die.”

Boa constrictors in the Florida Everglades is the latest story of an invasive species destroying a habitat. In the Great Lakes region it’s the Asian carp; more specifically, silver carp. These are the fish that get skittish and jump out of the water, often into boats. Looks great in Youtube videos, but a disaster in the rivers that feed into the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes, the first to be invaded being Lake Michigan. I love that lake.

The Ocean Beach Pier in San Diego. (Photo by Tim Forkes)

The Ocean Beach Pier in San Diego.
(Photo by Tim Forkes)

So, as the oceans warm the species will begin to migrate to climates more conducive to their survival.

For several years we’ve been concerned about polar bears losing habitat in the Arctic region as the ice caps and ice flows diminish, making it hard for the bears to find places to rest.

Despite the severity of that situation, it won’t be the Arctic and Antarctic that will go first, it will be the tropics. We will see the waters between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn warm first and the species there will begin their migrations to cooler waters.

Interestingly enough, I’ve noticed an increase in great white shark sightings off the beaches of San Diego County. Again, this is just an anecdotal observation, but fishing and whale watching boat captains have been reporting an increase in great white sightings.

Is it due to the changing climate? According to California State Long Beach Professor Chris Lowe, the waters off Southern California are pupping areas for great whites and with an increase in the base food chain animals, krill for squid the sharks feed on and seal and sea lions, the sharks are staying in these waters.

Seven years ago family members were visiting from Colorado and we went to the beach. My sister Elaine asked, “Are there sharks in the water?”

Well, yeah. There were probably hundreds within a few hundred yards of where we were swimming. I didn’t tell her that of course. I lied. I wanted her to have fun in the sun and surf.

A black tip shark on display at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography aquarium. (Photo by Tim Forkes)

A black tip shark on display at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography aquarium.
(Photo by Tim Forkes)

The more interesting part to that story was that we were at the beach at the end of June, nearly mid-summer (if you say summer starts with Memorial Day).

When we got to the beach we had to wait an hour before stripping down to our swim gear and getting in the water because the marine layer hadn’t burned off and the air temperatures were below 70°f.

Usually — maybe we shouldn’t use the word “usually” any more and say — in the past we could expect the air temps at the beach to be approaching the 80’s, if not in the 80’s and the marine layer gone long before noon. Not so on that day and that trend has continued. Sometimes the marine layer doesn’t burn off at all.

“What’s the ‘marine layer,’ ” you ask?

It’s a bank of clouds that comes in over the coastal areas, going as far as ten miles inland. When the sun comes up it begins to burn off as the daytime temperatures begin to rise.

Now, the marine layer last longer each day and the season of it lasts longer as well.

This isn’t junk science, as some global warming deniers claim. This is the culmination of research done for the past four decades.

The Ocean Beach Pier in San Diego. (Photo by Tim Forkes)

The Ocean Beach Pier in San Diego.
(Photo by Tim Forkes)

The University of Hawaii study had a “28-person international collaboration of climate modelers, biogeochemists, oceanographers, and social scientists …” They pretty much know about global warming.

It won’t happen in a 96-hour period, like we saw in the movie The Day After Tomorrow (we hope). It is a gradual process, one that is taking place at this moment. The water temperatures are rising and soon the air temps in San Diego will begin rising again.

This is the truly troublesome fact in all this: there are elected officials in Washington, D.C. who believe global warming is a hoax. Some of them people with scientific backgrounds, like Senator and medical doctor Tom Coburn.

Just this past August he proudly proclaimed, “I am a global warming denier. I don’t deny that.”

Well good for you Senator Coburn. Other global warming deniers in the Senate: Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, John Barrasso of Wyoming, Roy Blunt of Missouri, John Boozeman of Arkansas, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas, Michael Crap of Idaho, Deb Fischer and Mike Johanns of Nebraska, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Orrin Hatch of Utah, John Hoeven of North Dakota, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, John Isakson of Georgia, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Rob Portman of Ohio, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Pat Roberts of Kansas, Marco Rubio of Florida, Richard Shelby of Alabama, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, David Vitter of Louisiana and Roger Wicker of Mississippi.

And virtually every Republican in the House of Representatives.

The United States was instrumental in getting the Kyoto Treaty created and signed by over 100 nations. But two of our most recent presidents refused to sign it, saying it would harm U.S. economy. Plus, the Senate passed a law in 1997 that prevented our country from participating in the treaty, so the vice president at the time, Al Gore, symbolically signed it.

The GOP will not allow the Senate to ratify a treaty that would put new restrictions on the coal and petroleum industries that have been raking in record profits for over a decade now. Nor will it allow any global warming legislation to go forward in either the Senate or the House of Representatives.

The Over-The-Line Tournament (OTL) takes place every year over two weekends in July.  (Photos by Tim Forkes)

The Over-The-Line Tournament (OTL) takes place every year over two weekends in July.
(Photos by Tim Forkes)

So, instead of trying to save our coastal areas and the world in general, we have to listen to knuckleheads like Texas Congressman Joe Barton cite fiction as a reason to support the Keystone pipeline and oppose global warming legislation: “I would point out that if you’re a believer in in the Bible, one would have to say the Great Flood is an example of climate change and that certainly wasn’t because mankind had overdeveloped hydrocarbon energy.”

Umm, the Great Flood, Noah’s Ark, that’s a story that’s been completely discredited by science. It makes a nice story to tell small children to scare them into eating their vegetables and going to sleep on time, but to use it for making decisions that will effect the world for the next 80-plus years — that’s pretty insane.

Think about that the next time a city like new Orleans experiences a true great flood, or an Oklahoma town gets wiped off the map by a super tornado (pick your Tornado Alley” state); remember that the next time you go on vacation and you can’t go into the ocean because it is too cold.

Or as my scuba diving friends have found, visiting a once-thriving reef is a disappointment because it is dead.

Or, you head over to Fiesta Island in San Diego’s Mission Bay for the annual Over-the-Line Tournament in mid-July only to find it overcast and chilly, too cold for thong bikinis and skimpy Speedos.  That is if Fiesta Island isn’t under water by then.


About the author

Tim Forkes

Tim Forkes started as a writer on a small alternative college newspaper in Milwaukee called the Crazy Shepherd. Writing about entertainment issues, he had the opportunity to speak with many people in show business, from the very famous to the people struggling to find an audience. In 1992 Tim moved to San Diego, CA and pursued other interests, but remained a freelance writer. Upon arrival in Southern California he was struck by how the business of government and business was so intertwined, far more so than he had witnessed in Wisconsin. His interest in entertainment began to wane and the business of politics took its place. He had always been interested in politics, his mother had been a Democratic Party official in Milwaukee, WI, so he sat down to dinner with many of Wisconsin’s greatest political names of the 20th Century: William Proxmire and Clem Zablocki chief among them. As a Marine Corps veteran, Tim has a great interest in veteran affairs, primarily as they relate to the men and women serving and their families. As far as Tim is concerned, the military-industrial complex has enough support. How the men and women who serve are treated is reprehensible, while in the military and especially once they become veterans. Tim would like to help change that reality. Contact the author.
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