I have kept most of my lawn alive through our record heat this year at the cost of a lot of extra water. What I see in the news makes my struggle with the lawn seem trivial. Range animals are dying for lack of feed and water, corn and other crops are ruined. Beyond the immediate effects on the animals and the farmers and ranchers we will all be paying more for food and fuel in the next year. Drought has been a hazard to agriculture since the earliest times. The travels of the patriarchs in the book of Genesis were partly motivated by drought. But this one could self-inflicted.
Climatologists have used global climate models to predict how the extra warming from release of CO2 into the atmosphere will affect the climate. NOAA, the national weather and climate study organization published a prediction in 2008 in the article: Scientific Assessment Captures Effects of a Changing Climate on Extreme Weather Events in North America (http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2008/20080619_climatereport.html)
“Among the major findings reported in this assessment are that droughts, heavy downpours, excessive heat, and intense hurricanes are likely to become more commonplace as humans continue to increase the atmospheric concentrations of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.”
This year’s drought fits their predictions, but until there is a change of climate over many years it is difficult to say whether we caused it or it is part of the natural variation in climate. What is much more certain is that continuing to release CO2 into the atmosphere will raise global temperatures and change the climate—probably in ways we will find inconvenient. We need more people to take the science of climate change seriously if we are going to do something to prevent disastrous changes in the future.
I think science verses religion contention gets in the way of solving this and similar problems . People that take a side do not give proper credit to the other point of view. A solution to global warming requires sacrifices to reduce our consumption of goods and services that lead to production of greenhouse gasses. Religion helps me go beyond concern for my own affairs—my lawn. It teaches us to sacrifice to benefit others, but religious people must believe the science that predicts climate disruption in order to be willing to make those sacrifices. Those who have no religion and choose science to provide their view of the world cannot solve the global warming problem alone. Every word they utter in public to disparage religion and people of faith diminishes our ability to work together and solve a problem that could in time threaten our whole civilization. Given the contention that exists it is often difficult to have faith in a religion and at the same time learn and believe science, but probably not so difficult as what will happen to our civilization if we fail to act on the climate change problem that has been identified by science.