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River Town Chronicles: Can you say ‘global climate change’?

Sometimes people say something so farfetched you just chuckle and shake your head. A Donald Trump, a Rush.

Then there are those who sound as knowing as the Wizard of Oz; however, one glance behind their curtain of bombastic rhetoric, specious reasoning and edited facts reveals only a desperate man pulling levers and spouting nonsense.

For instance, the omniscient wizards might cite an anomaly to argue against a well-documented trend, the kind of logic used when relatives see boozing old Uncle Joe take a sip of water and want to believe he’s on the wagon.

This reasoning has big media knuckleheads and local letter writers proclaiming that recent cold temperatures must negate the mountain of scientific evidence behind global warming and extreme weather due to human action – or inaction.

A Big Rock resident’s letter to the editor miraculously dismisses human blame, explaining, “Ma Nature is allowed to mix things up once and a while.” Because Arctic ice hasn’t completely melted by the “predicted” 2013, he suggests we no longer need to worry about it, along with, presumably, reduced glaciation, snow caps, etc.

Besides recommending that this letter writer stop ignoring the 97 percent of climate science papers – papers that take a position on the issue – validate manmade global warming, I suggest he read “The Sixth Extinction” by Elizabeth Kolbert. A New York Times review outlines key points that Kolbert has made, at times including quotes from her book:  “ … fossil fuel use and deforestation [have] caused the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air to rise ‘by 40 percent over the last two centuries,’ while making the concentration of methane ... more than double. ... Human-driven change is happening faster than ever – ‘warming today is taking place at least 10 times faster than it did at the end of the last glaciation’ ... and its fallout looks to be devastating.”

Another Chronicle letter scolds me for using the phrase “global warming” in a column. Letter writer Douglas B. Jones chides me for failing to use the Democratic Party’s current nomenclature, “global climate change.”

Silly me, wasting time decrying people who scoff at scientific evidence when I should have been paying closer attention to my diction.

On another note, it surprises me that Mr. Jones assumes I’m a Democrat simply because I believe cropland desertification, extreme weather and the dearth of drinking water are connected to human pollution. His reasoning suggests that deniers of peer-reviewed scientific evidence must be Republicans! Expecting outraged GOP letters to flood opinion pages, I’ve seen nothing yet.

Debunkers of human-created climate change find it easier to believe Ma Nature’s behind it all and will eventually put things right – like Dorothy believing the all-powerful Wizard will get her home. Instead of studying the science, they creatively skirt annoying facts and concoct ludicrous conspiracy theories to convince a gullible public not to worry about the fate of our earth.

No matter how many times Toto pulls back the curtain, too many wish-starved travelers still believe in the loud, blustery, fiery mask.

If we don’t wake up soon, the only home we’ll have is one longed for in our dreams.

• Rick Holinger lives in the Fox Valley where he’s taught high school since 1979. Contact him at

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