OKC Faces Severe Global Warming Impact

It has been cold sporadically over the last few weeks, but the heat and the drought in Oklahoma, and especially in the Oklahoma City area, remain the most important weather-related issues here.

Will the record high average temperature in 2012, continued warm temperatures this winter and lack of precipitation change our lifestyles? It appears so. Oklahoma City announced a water rationing program Thursday, and one city official even urged residents to consider water conservation when landscaping their homes. What’s next?

The severity of the heat and the drought can be attributed to global warming caused by manmade carbon emissions, but don’t expect much local media coverage about it. Even a basic discussion of global warming remains taboo in the home state of U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, the world’s most infamous global warming denier, who has been enabled by the corporate media here.

In addition, our local Oklahoma City meteorologists, with some exceptions, are too busy falsely predicting winter blizzards and frigid temperatures in breathless, frantic voices to note the real story, which is that climate change is now impacting our lives here in Oklahoma and will continue to do so.

Here are the recent developments:

  • There is an extended drought in Oklahoma and throughout the Midwest region of the country, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center predicts it will continue. This has caused water levels at Oklahoma City’s water supply lakes to drop, prompting city officials to implement an even/odd lawn water program, which includes local suburbs. City officials warn that even stricter measures might be forthcoming and have even asked homeowners and businesses to stop watering their lawns entirely. According to a media report, one official, utilities Director Marsha Slaughter, said, “We don't know how long the drought will last, but it's important that residents consider water conservation when they plan their landscaping, choose plants and renovate their home.” Norman has also instituted water rationing because of low water levels at Lake Thunderbird. Has global warming significantly changed our area’s climate, causing drier, warmer weather patterns? What does that mean for all of us who live here? Will keeping the grass green in Oklahoma someday seem like an unbelievable luxury and horrific waste? These questions deserve healthy debate.

  • As I’ve noted, 2012 was the warmest year on record for the contiguous United States and for Oklahoma. So far temperatures in the first three weeks or so of 2013 in Oklahoma have fluctuated between cold and warm, but forecasts for the next few days suggest temperatures will be in the 50s and 60s. Last year was dubbed by some as “the year without winter.” According to a Washington Post report, the warm temperatures in 2012 “provided further compelling evidence that human activity — especially the burning of fossil fuels, which produces greenhouse gases — is contributing to changes in the U.S. climate.” Meanwhile, the arctic ice cap melted at a record pace last summer and rising sea levels were blamed for the severity of Hurricane Sandy in October that caused at least $50 billion of damage on the East Coast. The signs of global warming are all around us.

The solution to all this is quite clear: The planet needs to start reducing manmade carbon emissions. Our country needs to take the lead on this issue, but that won’t happen until we begin extended local discussions about global warming, even here in Oklahoma. The oil and gas companies that produce the fossil fuels that contribute to global warming will obviously see such discussions as a threat, but that shouldn’t deter us. Global warming is the most serious problem the world faces right now.