By LOU ANTONELLI
It’s rained almost daily for the past four months. The ground is saturated; walking across grass is like stepping onto a wet scrub pad. When I moved to Texas in 1985, I was part of what was called at the time the Sunbelt migration.
Sunbelt? What happened?
Well, I’m going to go out on a limb here – and don’t bite my head off – but I think the problem is really related to global warming. I assert it’s possible to believe in global warming but not blame it wholly on human activities.
Climate varies over time but the changes are so slow that people seldom notice in one or two generations. It’s obvious climate change happens naturally. Ten thousand years ago there was an Ice Age with a polar ice cap that extended in North America as far south as Missouri. No one was burning coal or driving polluting cars back then.
There are historical signs we entered a minor Ice Age about the 13th Century, and what we are seeing now may be the climate returning back to before.
A good example involves Greenland. If you have ever seen photos of the large island between North America and Europe, you’ll recall it doesn’t look very green. But the Vikings settled in it in the 9th century and that’s what they named it; apparently there were forests around the coast line.
It was because of the Viking settlements in Greenland that some early explorers were able to make the jump to North America. But a few hundred years later the climate cooled to the point where the Greenland settlements died off, and that connection to Europe was lost. Columbus had to pick up later using a more southerly, and warm, route in the 1400s.
The English like wine, which is strange because it is too cold in the British Isles for grape vines to grow. But it was warm enough before 1300, and then the weather cooled and the vines died. It is interesting to note two of the traditionally most popular English wines, sherry and port, are Portuguese in origin.
If you head straight south from the British Isles, the first place you hit land is the Atlantic Coast of Portugal. You can imagine the medieval merchants ordering wine from the nearest ports when the grape harvest failed.
Rising sea levels have also been going on for hundreds of years. We all know the Netherlands are known for having canals and dikes to hold the sea back. That’s because the inhabitants noticed the slow rise and have taken steps over the years to keep the sea out.
There’s a place in England called St. Michael’s Mount; it’s a small rocky island just off the coast of Cornwall. At low tide, you can see still tree stumps from a long-drowned forest in the sand. It’s name in the native Cornish language translates as “Gray rock in the woods”, obviously going back to before the sea came in.
I say it may be possible that human actions aggravate climate change, but to say humans are the cause of it is just propaganda. The best argument I’ve heard that these variations are a natural thing is that astronomers have seen a decrease in the size of the polar icecaps on Mars.
There are no cars or factories on Mars.
Over 20 years ago I heard that Texas was one place that would be affected by global warming because it is big and flat and next to a large body of relatively shallow water – the Gulf of Mexico – that has a lot of evaporation.
Perhaps that is what we are seeing now. If so, it’s just a natural process, and Texans – being a resourceful and self-reliant people – will deal with it.