What’s The Weather?

City of St. Charles’ Frontier Park. (Holly Shanks)

Steve Reed, a Sunset Hills resident, recently sent commentary about the severe flooding in our local areas.  Please take a moment and read about his concerns.


By Steve Reed, Sunset Hills (Guest Commentator)

What’s with the weather?

Galatians 6:5 “For each one will bear his own load.”

I once heard a sermon about a man who awakes in the middle of the night feeling uncomfortably chilled. To get warm he needs to rouse himself, grasp the blanket at the foot of his bed, and pull it over him. And yet he does nothing. Half awake, and with dim awareness that any movement will expose him to cold room air, his mind turns from the effort to act, and he snuggles deeper into the blankets for warmth.

We have had recent severe prolonged flooding in the Mid-west causing multiple damage: crops destroyed and spring plantings missed; buildings and equipment destroyed; loss of livestock and human lives. Damage cost estimates are $ 5 billion and above, most of which is uninsured.  The floodwaters which flow to the Gulf of Mexico carry farmland fertilizer which results in an enormous, oxygen depleted “dead zone” in the Gulf, killing fish and causing fishermen to seek disaster relief along with farmers.

This flooding is not unprecedented. Comparable flooding occurred in 1993. But what should concern us is that the frequency of severe flooding rises higher and higher. Why?

Steadily rising global temperatures increase evaporation. More moisture in the air results in more storms with increases in heavy downpours and flooding, with the largest increases in the Midwest and Northeast the past few decades.

So, there are two things we must do. First, adapt to heavier rainfall by re-examining our assumptions about the frequency and severity of future flooding, and alter land use and flood management plans accordingly.

Secondly, reduce emissions of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. The scientific community reached overwhelming consensus long ago that carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere help trap solar radiation, warming the Earth and increasing evaporation.

We sit on the brink of a new era. By kicking the fossil fuel habit and switching to clean sources of energy we can create vast numbers of new jobs and a prosperous, healthier society. We can increase our global manufacturing competitiveness on everything from windmills to electric cars. It’s already happening, but too slowly. Countries like China have been pulling away from us in the energy industries that are defining the 21st century.

So.  We make our choices big and small. Some municipalities in St Louis County, like Town and Country, chose to pass ordinances that effectively stop residential solar in order to shield neighbor’s delicate eyes from the unbearable anguish of glimpsing rooftop panels.

And St. Louis County has chosen to reject new efficient building energy codes because, well, who can say how much more it will cost to build efficient homes. And after all, does the public really pay any attention to the long-term health and death rates from a higher level of airborne pollution?

And, making the perfect the enemy of the good, Missouri voters and environmental organizations chose to reject a state carbon tax because it included an increased fee in electric vehicle registration.

And as citizens we can choose to demand change and to give our support, or not, to political candidates and office holders who are willing to lead on these issues.

Our choices define who we are. And whether we are a nation of the brave, or blanket snugglers shrinking from the challenge of our future and our children’s future.

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