I was in Central Oregon last month when temperatures set records. I met with farmers who fear pending water shortages and listened to people describe last year’s unprecedented infernos that ravaged the region. Like much of the North State, this is a deeply conservative part of the country, still festooned with Trump 2020 flags. But many now worry about the weird weather. Just how did another drought return so quickly?
And how in the world did it get so hot? I stayed in Prineville where it reached 111. My daughter was bumped off a Redmond, Oregon Delta Airlines flight because it couldn’t take off in the heat with a full passenger load.
As of July 8, almost 200 people had died from the excessive heat in Oregon and Washington, where temperatures reached 115 in Portland, an almost temperate reading compared to Lytton, British Columbia, which in the same heat wave shattered Canada’s record high by 8 degrees, hitting 121. Lytton was subsequently destroyed by wildfire.
I mention this because some people, many supported by industry-funded think tanks, keep saying the climate is not changing, temperatures are not increasing, the seas aren’t rising, flooding isn’t getting worse, and the missing Artic Sea ice is an illusion. They want us to believe nothing abnormal is happening, or if it is, people are not responsible, or if they are, well, dealing with it is too costly and too hard. They use ideology to obfuscate reality and to keep us from exploring ways to reduce our risks. And there are effective ways to cut greenhouse gases without harming the economy.
Two and a half years ago, in my hometown of Paradise, 85 people were incinerated in part because the seasonal rains now come a month later than normal, pushing fire season into the fall wind period. That’s climate change, and its costs are becoming unbearable.
Efforts to spread doubt about what nearly every unbiased researcher understands about climate change are escalating because average people are catching on to industry’s deceits. Thankfully, more and more of us are beginning to trust our eyes and have quit listening to the charlatans.