Feb. 19—Concerns are growing about Earth's climate, and the Joplin area is experiencing events that reinforce those concerns; the question is how do we respond.
A pair of studies recently published show the Earth is losing 1.2 trillion tons of ice each year, nearly a 60% increase from 1994. Yet our area and the entire center of the country has been experiencing a record-breaking run of brutal cold that has taken lives and threatened the regional power grid.
Data shows that extreme weather events — floods, fires, droughts, devastating storms and even the polar vortex sweeping south for extended stays — have become more frequent over the past 36 years.
We have seen an increase in rainfall and flooding in our area in recent years, including in Carthage, Neosho and Miami, Oklahoma; in fact, many of our worst floods have occurred in the last decade or so.
Ten years ago, Joplin suffered a tornado that did a stunning amount of damage.
There was discussion among experts at the time as to the relationship between such a severe storm and climate change. The consensus can be summed up by saying we don't know the effect on any one storm, but increased energy in the atmosphere could bring more weather disasters and they could be stronger. Essentially, there have always been extreme weather events, but it looks like the extremes are becoming more, well, extreme. Which is what experts predicted would happen.
But again, the question becomes: What do we do about it?
Whatever happens, any response will need to be considered at multiple levels. Many people think top down, meaning action on the global and national levels. Yet climate and weather are regional and local issues too. How should our states, counties and cities respond? Should industries and businesses act? How should concerned individuals respond? Are there simple actions we can take? Are complex initiatives needed? How much will any given response cost, and how will it be paid for? Can we do anything at all? Should we?
This editorial board does not have the answers. But answers are needed, and perhaps we even need to ask better questions. What the board does have is a forum to consider the questions.
And Joplin has a great resource for ideas and opinions: you, our readers. The community needs to know what questions are important, what ideas are out there and what solutions are available, especially those that are innovative and practical. We want to know what you think.