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Record-breaking and more often-occurring 'once-in-a-lifetime' natural disasters are increasingly sounding like a broken record: looking at weather with conscience
By Henry H. Bucher, Jr., Associate Professor Emeritus of Humanities, Austin College
Sep 21, 2017
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Mark Twain is often credited with a remark made in The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today which he co-authored in 1873 with Charles Dudley Warner: “Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it!” A  century and a half later, Twain and Warner would marvel that science is predicting the weather so accurately that thousands of lives are being saved. Preventative measures are far more controversial.

Climate scientists are suggesting that more lives would be saved if we took preventive measures more seriously, switching to non-fossil fuels such as wind, water and sun. Denmark is the most serious about this and will soon end dependence on oil and coal-based energy. Seven major scientific societies in the USA and several US government and inter-governmental agencies have joined two hundred worldwide scientific organizations showing  a consensus over many years that changes in weather have been caused by human actions. There is some disagreement on whether we have reached, or when we shall reach, the point of no return. This means a slow and painful decline leading to an ecological apocalypse.

 The increasingly destructive weather events are in the long run far more dangerous to our planet than terrorism, and college students should take seriously that more jobs will open in weather-related research as more “Harveys,” “Irmas” and “Marias”create more havoc with our lives.

 Many students have told me in recent years that they “enjoy” family Thanksgivings less because political divisions demand that “only the weather” can be discussed! Not so these days. Climate issues should not be about partisan politics, but they do create serious political and economic problems nationally and universally. Reports from Washington, DC suggest that President Trump is heading up the “Red Team” on weather issues and the “Blue Team” is in the huddle. Will science heed the “final score” if there is one? Some want a “democratic vote,” as though science will listen to the sages of Congress.

 The tsunami of silence in our media and even on our weather channels over the politicized term “climate change” is dangerous. Media appear to cater to their audience. So they must, if “ratings” determine a channel’s survival. What will most determine our planet’s survival is understanding that the ignoring of the climate change issue is the essence of the original meaning of “ignorance.”

 Some would say, “Let your conscience be your guide!” One interpretation would be: “Vote for the Red Team or the Blue Team depending on your feelings…”  I am going with the original meaning of “conscience”: with science! Certainly Mark Twain and Charles Warner would do so if alive today. So would Copernicus and Galileo!

Henry H. Bucher, Jr., Ph.D. - Associate Professor Emeritus of Humanities