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Rod Rose

Climate change by another name is global warming, and that’s what has gotten some people confused.

There are multiple possible consequences from global warming. Some of them are contradictory — but a changing climate that will have disastrous effect on the human race is virtually inevitable; we have only our elected officials to blame.

Independent reports from the United Nations and in the magazine Science Friday would indicate the only options we have now are limiting the damage.

It isn’t the collapse of western civilization, but it is going to be very, very inconvenient for many residents of North America and Europe.

If you were considering retiring to Phoenix, Las Vegas or other areas of the Great American Southwest, don’t. You’ll die of thirst or hunger.

First, the bad news.

A drought will make much of the Southwest unlivable by the year 2050, according to Columbia University’s Richard Seager and others, who published their findings Science on Thursday. Seager told The Associated Press for a story Friday that, “the bottom line message for the average person and also for the states and federal government is that they’d better start planning for a Southwest region in which the water resources are increasingly stretched.”

Using information dating back to 1860, the study used 19 computer models and came to the same conclusion:

The Southwest is going to dry up. The limited water will have to go to either water crops or people; there won’t be enough to do both.

The study is “scary,” the University of Arizona’s Jonathan T. Overpeck told the AP, because “they are results of well thought-out scientific work by a large number of strong scientists.” Overpeck was not on the research team.

Las Vegas, Phoenix, and other Southwestern cities exist only because massive man-made delivery systems. Los Angeles is also susceptible to drought. None of the three cities have any logical reason to exist.

Now, the really bad news:

The United Nations considers climate change to be one of the most serious threats to world peace in the coming years.

Greenpeace said the report predicted “an apocalyptic future.”

It’s hard to dispute that, based on the AP’s report that the study predicts the U.S. will see more hurricanes, floods, droughts, heat waves and wildfires; that up to 250 million Africans will be without adequate water supplies by 2020; glaciers in the Alps will melt, as will those in the Himalayas, triggering disastrous flooding and avalanches.

Anti-environmentalists, thumbs stuck firmly in ears, no doubt will sing la-la-la loudly, and condemn the predictions as silly science.

According to the Austrian Alpine Association, one glacier in that country shrank 262 feet — last year.

Some will pass that off, of course. It’s called denial. When facing negative reality, some people panic, insisting that things cannot possibly be that bad because, well, because.

Fortunately, it’s the panicky ones who die first. That could make it easier for those who understand the threat is real to, if not eliminate it, at least moderate the impact.

“We can fix this,” Stephen Schneider of Stanford University, told The Associated Press. “It’s trillions of dollars, but it’s a very trivial thing” compared to the world’s economic growth rate, he said.

We’ll see. Anticipate the Bush administration, multi-national corporations and some conservatives who wouldn’t know a test tube from a petri dish to insist the scientists have it all wrong.

But saying it isn’t so doesn’t make the problem go away.

In what would have been a bizarre political alliance several years ago, the United States, China and Saudi Arabia all fought bitterly to gut the report, according to The Associated Press.

Imagine: Two of the world’s largest petroleum users and one of the largest producers saying there’s nothing to worry about because — well, because they’ll lose money.

Oh, the horror.

— Rod Rose is the assistant managing editor of The Lebanon Reporter. He may be reached at; c/o The Lebanon Reporter, 117 E. Washington St., Lebanon IN 46052 or at (765) 482-4650 x 127.

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