So you're not into extreme weather?

OPINION

(NASA )
May 28, 2013|By Stephen Markley, @stephenmarkley | For RedEye

It's unknown if climate change increases the power of tornadoes. Climate modeling has a difficult time predicting the most granular of weather events, but in the wake of Oklahoma's nightmare, wouldn't that be a nifty thing to study?

After all, what is a tornado but the demon spawn of a supercell storm formed when warm, moist air comes roaring up from the Gulf of Mexico? With burning fossil fuels causing the rapid warming of the Earth, we now have a hell of a lot more moisture in the air, so maybe it wouldn't be the dumbest thing to take a look at that one.

But public policy is going in the opposite direction. Remember those sequester cuts? No? Remember they only affected the poor and disadvantaged, so once Congress got their planes flying on time everyone just forgot about them? Well, they happened to also include devastating defunding of geostationary weather satellites.

"Geostationary weather satellites? Markley, it's 8 a.m. and the guy who just squeezed in beside me on the train had better be saving a banana for breakfast in his pocket or I'm going to vomit and start screaming for help. Get the [bleep] outta here with your stupid geostationary weather satellites."

Right. I know. But those satellites, coupled with other cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, could seriously weaken the government's ability to issue warnings for extreme weather and climate events. This might be useful for, I don't know, tornadoes maybe? Meanwhile, the cuts will impair the ability of the U.S. Geological Survey to study what's happening with droughts, floods and wildfires.

Whether it was fueled by climate change or not, the spectacular Oklahoma twister is only the beginning of this summer's extreme weather. Already NOAA has warned of another active hurricane season. It also said the superdrought of 2012 will continue into the summer of 2013, so farmers in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas can look forward to another devastating year. This also means severe wildfires across the West, but we'll have fewer firefighters thanks to those genius sequestration cuts.

People generally rail against government spending until they need it to give them a heads-up about a superstorm, pick them out of the resulting debris, save them from wildfires, or pay them for their failed crops.

"Markley, what do you want me to do? I don't have time to save the world. The banana, remember?"

You can actually do a couple of things: First, you can stop voting for these pathetic, clueless, denialist losers who literally are ensuring that their own grandchildren will be born onto a savage, chaotic, dying planet (yes, I am using "literally" correctly given the timeframe outlined by the majority of scientists).

Secondly, you can ask your alderman to join the movement for Chicago to divest from fossil fuels. This is easy. Aldermen are so obscure that they'll give you foot rubs if you show up at their offices. Already 10 American cities have pledged to divest from the industries that have a guaranteed planetary apocalypse written into their business plans.

See you on the other side of the summer. It promises to be a doozy.

RedEye special contributor Stephen Markley is the author of "The Great Dysmorphia" and "Publish This Book."

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