As published in the Charleston Gazette on July 2nd, this editorial has a wide scope:
A major scientist from West Virginia is rushing to finish his landmark research before global warming wipes out his evidence. Dr. Lonnie Gene Thompson, born on a farm near Gassaway, went to Ohio State University to become a coal geologist — but instead became intrigued by glacier ice that contains a frozen record of climate conditions dating back as far as 800,000 years.
Since the 1970s, he has collected huge numbers of deep core drill ice samples containing dust, volcanic ash, water chemistry changes, even frozen insects. And he was first to report that glaciers around the world are melting rapidly — something that never happened before, according to the prehistoric record contained in his core samples.
A 2005 book, Thin Ice, told of his Indiana Jones-style life. This week, a New York Times feature did likewise, reporting: “His West Virginia farm upbringing came in handy as he challenged Mongol porters to contests shooting wild game. Other times, he went hungry. Once, in China, dinner was a bowl of stewed camel paws.”
In 2007, when he was given a National Medal of Science at the White House, he commented: “The loss of our glaciers is the most visible evidence of global warming we have.”
Now 64, Dr. Thompson recently underwent a heart transplant. He wants to complete his studies quickly, while his health allows it — and before higher temperatures melt what’s left of the planet’s glaciers. For scientists like this West Virginia native, there’s no debate over whether global warming is real. It is evident.
Last week’s mammoth “derecho” storm that walloped the Mountain State and adjoining regions triggered a flood of observations about climate change. An Associated Press analysis began: “If you want a glimpse of some of the worst of global warming, scientists suggest taking a look at U.S. weather in recent weeks: Horrendous wildfires. Oppressive heat waves. Devastating droughts. Flooding from giant deluges. And a powerful freak windstorm called a derecho.”
It added that 3,215 local daily high temperature records across America were set in June.
The Los Angeles Times commented: “The reality of climate change is hitting home. It’s time to plan for hotter days and rising sea levels.” It said the Atlantic is rising abruptly along the East Coast, which “sets the stage for catastrophic flooding, destruction of valuable buildings, costly damage to ports and even some airports, inundation of low-lying towns.”
Coal, oil and gas industry chiefs — and politicians allied to them — still deny that global warming is real, or that it is caused by greenhouse gases from fossil fuel fumes. But Americans in general are beginning to listen to scientists like West Virginia native Thompson.
Like Dr. Thompson’s glaciers, public doubt of climate change is melting away.