On Alabama, The Deep South, Killer Tornadoes, and Climate Change

My condolences to all of those severely hurt in Thursday's tornadoes, including the great tragedy at the high school in Enterprise, Alabama.

What I post here is in no way meant to demean what happened, but I feel compelled to say something on this subject.

The number of tornadoes and other manifestations of extreme weather phenomena have increased sharply for decades now, and have been even worse the last seven or so years. That is a given.

Ironically, in recent weeks, I've seen various news outlets talking with people, often in the deep South, including school children and young adults in Alabama and Georgia - two of the states very hard hit by yesterday's killer tornadoes - about climate change/global warming/"An Inconvenient Truth" (Cheney mocked that title earlier today, btw) weather changes. Time and again, I heard these folks - and not all of them were young - pooh pooh the notion of climate change and global warming.

To paraphrase one young man I remember seeing, "I think maybe it's like what the prez and Vice President say, that nobody can tell if the weird weather's got anything to do with a little extra car exhaust and using an air conditioner. Nobody can prove climate change is happening."

Now, I'm not suggesting I hold a 16- or 17-year-old culpable for global warming, I don't. I do hold the Bush Administration at fault, however, for helping to keep people stupid on the subject, with columnists like George S. Will ("Who says we aren't supposed to be this new temperature average? Who says it will harm us?") adding to the dumbing down of America.

But I do think it's the responsibility of every citizen of the globe, including those teenage Kool-aid drinkers in the Deep South, to educate themselves about what is going on with global climate change. And, until they do, perhaps they shouldn't ridicule what they don't understand.