Not too long ago, I took a trip up to Oklahoma City all the way up from the Houston Area. It was an interesting ride with some pretty scenery, but something else became apparent over the course of my trip, something that relates to this story.

For one thing, there was the temperature. I didn’t know it at the time, but the August weekend me and the family chose to make our trip was not only the hottest on record in Texas and Oklahoma, they were the hottest summers in American history. Texas got the kewpie doll, and Oklahoma took second place.

Lousiana, in case you’re curious, placed fourth on the all-time list.

Anyway, the outside thermometer was registering 100 degree+ temperatures the whole way there. Our only respite was the rain we saw in Oklahoma.

Texas, for its part, experienced it’s driest year since 1895, 116 years ago.

Houston, near where I live, literally did not see a single day without triple digit temperatures. The typical average is around 95 degrees. For some of you who don’t live around here, that difference may register as a distinction between broil and bake, but trust me, it was a noticeable difference.

So was the lack of rainfall. Normally we get about 4 inches. Instead, we got .09, total.

Very interesting weather to say the least.

Rick Perry, our governor, asked Texans to ask God for rain back in April.

God did not give him the answer he wanted, by all evidence. All things considered, if I was offering piety and being buddy-buddy with God as a big item on my resume, a refusal this big should at least make him reconsider the reference.

All joking aside, what really concerns me about Rick Perry and like-minded conservatives in government is their detachment from reality. He should recall the biblical story of Jesus’ temptation by the devil, where he told Jesus he should jump off the top of the temple. He told Jesus that God would catch him, lest he dash a toe on the stones below.

Jesus bluntly quoted the Torah back at him, telling him that you shouldn’t put the Lord Almighty to the test. It’s one thing to have faith, it’s quite another to rely on your faith to get you out of reckless decisions, whether that’s faith in God, or faith in a political ideology.

Rick Perry and his fellow Republicans seem intent on putting their luck to the test, trying to look good to the fiscal conservatives and Tea Partiers out there.

The rest of you, and Texans next year, are paying for their lack of foresight. We pay to help them with their wildfires as the need arises. Governor Perry even bashed the Feds for not showing up fast enough. Conservatives are always quick to cut preparations, then scramble for mitigation afterwards.

It should occur to some that if you act properly, the disasters you can’t prevent will be better mitigated, and the ones you can prevent won’t even happen.

Global climate change is an example, and it’s here we see more of the Rick Perry style of governance in his pronouncement that much of the scientific support is simply cooked numbers.

Sorry, it’s not. Unfortunately, some people listen to the wrong folks on global warming and think it might be controversial, but the truth is, it’s not, not at least among those who study it for a living.

We’re talking numbers that get as high as 98%. Now that isn’t undeniable evidence that they’re right, but it sure is a hell of a lot of people who know what they’re talking about, and who could be the darlings of a lot of important people, if they could just prove their thesis right.

But who can? Forget trying to pretend like the planet’s not getting warmer, it is. In fact, that’s among the easier things to prove. Forget pretending like we’re not the leading source of Carbon Dioxide, we are. We outrank volcanoes by a long way.

The difficult part of the science is that uncertainty is part of any prediction about our atmosphere. Why do you think your best forecasts are only good for about a week ahead? It’s not that we lack computing power, nor is it that thermodynamics or the behavior of CO2 molecules are all that poorly understood. Not unless Venus suddenly got cooler by several hundred degrees.

Just look at that planet, and you’ll find a place where only a quarter of the light that hits the planet gets through the thick clouds, yet the place is several hundred degrees hotter. Proximity to the sun is not enough to explain it.

The real problem is, that for some people, it’s simply bad business, at least as their shortsighted perspectives would have it. They won’t sell as much of what they mine or pump from the earth. The government might not allow them to sell their big gas guzzlers that turn high profits. There are some people for whom people seeking alternatives and being able to seek alternatives is just unacceptable.

And those people have help from folks like Rick Perry. Folks who have no problem with arguing with the science in order to help their friends.

Well, you can argue with science, but nature is deaf to such appeals. Nature, however, does not change it’s rules in response to what they do. It maintains it’s non-intelligent, but highly complex, highly fed-back way of absorbing any and every variation that takes place and spitting out a result. These results are predictable in principle, but the feedbacks and the iterations it takes for humans like us to accurately figure out those feedbacks makes it difficult to predict things specifically in the long term.

But you can get a general idea of where things will go. Chaos theory in climate studies does make it nearly impossible to get a precise answer as to the consequences of our behavior, but it doesn’t keep us from defining a range of possible outcomes, or from modelling how we got where we are today with the initial conditions we already know of.

Suffice it to say, Rick Perry and every conservative who agrees with him has their collective heads in the sand. They can rant about socialist conspiracies, but their is nothing that says that the alternative to a fossil-fuel dependent capitalist society is necessarily a socialist one. That’s just a scare-tactic, really, a way to push things into the subjective, confounded world of politics, where people can argue the objective world to death, rather than keep in in the rather resolvable world of science.

I’m firm in my belief that the time to act is now. I’m also firm in my preference that we do this before a drastic change in our way of life is necessary, or before results are locked in that give us no opportunity to respond effectively.

Let’s take my home state for example. If the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica collapse, the coastline will be redefined. If dry conditions such as this year’s become the norm, a lot of trees and vegetation will die, and what was once a fairly wet subtropical climate will become otherwise.

It’s all a matter of what kind of weather, if any, becomes the norm. Whatever it is, it probably won’t be the kind of weather for which we’ve prepared ourselves for generations. Changes in geography from rising sea levels will have their effect, too. Many of our largest cities are within close range of the oceans. It will be an expensive and bitterly frustrating task, even on the timescale of centuries that theories speak of, to move residences, ports and transportation facilities, roads, bridges, industrial, power generation, and other infrastructure.

The situation will change where crops can be grown, farm animals can be raised, and where water can be found. It will change what kind of communities can endure, and what cannot.

Rather than initiate change ourselves, and adapt to the practical issues that come from that, we will be forced by blunt force necessity to undo much of what people like Rick Perry take for granted. At that point, as well, we can forget about dictating terms on what kind of economy or form of government sorts itself out. People will do what they have to do. A system like ours works best when buffered from such problems, or when it doesn’t have to deal with them at all.

Change will come to us. It already has, as a matter of fact, on many levels, and often despite our fingernail-grinding death grip on the way things were. The simple evolution of society and technology, as culture shifts and technology redefines how people interact and transact, ensure that the world we know now will not endure. The question is, will the world we see tomorrow bear a better footprint from us, one that, in its feedbacks, serves our interests better?

Or are we waiting for nature to teach us harsher lessons on top of those it has already given us this past year?

Rick Perry, and others like him, sell us the vain hope that if we just keep on defending the vested interests of a few, we’ll be able to continue things the way we are. But we won’t. Oil supplies, regardless of what estimates you get, are finite, and the scientific evidence says that continued CO2 emissions will undo the world we know. I’m not running around with my hair on fire screaming “We’re all going to die!”, but you have only to look at the scale of the issues coming from storms like Irene, and the droughts and heat waves around my neck of the woods to see that much of what we hold dear could be put to the test, a test not everything we have built or depended upon in the course of our lives will pass.

People use the (actually false) example of the frog being boiled in the water as the temperature is slowly raised to talk about these kinds of events, where change sneaks up on us. Truth is, that’s how big change typically acts, building up the pressures that lead events to come out a certain way, and releasing them. However, most of the time, we hardly realize this is happening.

In this case, the warnings have been repeated, they have been backed by a preponderance of the scientific evidence, and those who study this issue have become virtually unanimous in support of the theory.

But there are some who don’t want to heed the warning. Even worse than being the proverbial frog stupid enough to sit in the water until it’s butt is boiled, folks like Rick Perry have been told it’s a pot of water that’s going to boil them, but they’re insisting that it’s actually a Jacuzzi, and the rest of us are just party poopers.

Over the past decade, the GOP has been warned again and again that it’s getting itself into some kind of trouble, whether that’s on derivatives, deficits, wars, disaster relief, or the economic effects of austerity in a poor economy, or the consequences of the debt ceiling controversy. Again and again they are warned, and the leaders of the party instead resolve to be obstructive contrarians, simply to remain the winners in the game, and not have to listen to those they consider their political inferiors.

But however much they sell themselves on the quality of their positions, their victories are hollow, and short-termed, because if you’re not right on a practical level, being the victor of a debate is cold consolation.

Cold consolation especially, for the poor little froggies who win outcomes with heated rhetoric that their poor boiling butts can’t reckon with the consequences of. Not much either, for those who willingly stick themselves in a situation where they have to keep themselves in hot water with nature and most of the rest of the country in order to satisfy a few influential extremists, who they gave the run and control of the party to.


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