On Nature: Normal Climate

On Nature: David Voigts

The question has been asked recently, “What is the normal climate?” The answer is that there is no normal climate. Earth’s climate is always changing. In the past when it was cold, you could walk across the Gulf of Mexico from Tampa, Florida, to New Orleans, Louisiana. At other times when it was warm, sea levels were high and Florida was reduced to a narrow strip of sand dunes. If the climate is always changing, why should we care?

We should care because past climate changes usually were very slow, and the few times when the climate changed rapidly, there were mass species extinctions. The climate is currently warming at a very rapid rate, and extinctions and population reductions are already happening. If this rapid rate of warming continues, there almost certainly will be many species extinctions all around the globe.

The second reason we should care is because the Earth is warming rapidly at a time when the natural conditions are not causing the warming. Man’s activities, especially the emission of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels, is causing the Earth to warm. This means we can do something about it. Let’s do it.

David Voigts is a retired ecologist and the current Conservation Chair for the Prairie Rapids Audubon Society. He is a Tama County native, graduating from Dinsdale High School, and lives in rural Jesup on his wife’s family farm.