Living in South California, to answer your first questions... Hell yes. We've just recently had rain, the first in a long time. And there was a time early of last year that we went on without rain for... seven months (save for that freak cold snap but that just made everything worse). Nowadays, whenever we get rain, it's only a little, and not like that substantial stuff we used to get seven years ago. The mountains and the empty plots of land with only grass used to be so green... Lush, lush, stuff. And now, it's just dead. Temperatures have gone up a bit, too... Five years ago, it used to cool down in September, to maybe, 74°F / 18°C, but now it's usual to have 87°F / 30.6°C in the middle of October.
I've been noticing how dirty the sky lines have been getting, too... The rain used to clean up the air a bit, leaving it all deep, clear, and blue. Seven years ago, the sky was almost always clean. Nowadays, it always looks like this. The sudden population boom (more people have moved in since then) doesn't help any, either. And, unfortunately, most of the people moving in... Well, let's just say I've seen more litter around the streets, parks, and roads that I used to. Oh, and I hate long road trips... You just see more dead mountains, more smog, and more big rigs pumping up smoke into the atmosphere... Though on occasion I see turbines out in the middle of nowhere... And cows. Poor, poor, innocent cows, living so close to the freeway... The roads are almost always a bit congested, too. I feel glad that I'm inside a car with air-conditioning whenever I'm on a freeway. Also, since I live somewhat close to the burn areas, some mountains... are bare and brown. Flash flood warning areas, you know? Since there are no plants to hold the soil together. Though the old ones were already dead...
Oh, and it's not just the environment and the weather that's messed up, too. It's only just now that birds in California have started to migrate to Mexico... They usually do that in October, but since it's been so warm, they've been staying longer. I've head this has happened in Canada, too... That the geese are staying and dirtying up the lakes with an extra +30cm / one foot of guano on the lake floors. And what's with the flowers? Don't get me wrong, I love roses, but my mother's yellow ones used to die around October. They're still alive, though they are just starting to wilt from the cold.
I know climate change has happened before, and that it's a natural occurrence. But what I think is not natural are the new extremes I'm seeing within such a short period of time compared to what's happened before...
Can we do anything to stop climate change? I don't think so... Like I said above, it's a natural phenomenon. And what humans ahve done to speed it up... I'm not sure we can reverse those effects. I do believe we can slow down what's happenning, though. But it first has to start with the United States. If one of the world's superpowers isn't going to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, then it's obviously setting a bad example to other countries. Australia will also have to change if anyone wants China and thet other countries who haven't associated themselves with the protocol at all to turn heads.
Is the public willing to help? Are they ready? Well, it seems a good majority, but then there's another good majority who'd rather have a sports car with a horsepower of 300 than use something like a hybrid, a hydro, an electric, or compressed air car, which, by the way, do exist, and some existing models, so far, can reach 60mph / 100kmph. (Watch the Science channel special Future Car some time.) So, perhaps not all of the public is ready yet... But at least a good majority is. Enough to make a difference, but the government needs to move in if the world is going to see some bigger differences. I mean, look at all the farmers clearing away rainforests for more land. People are not going into conserving the planet if they can't conserve themselves. These people need incentives to join, whether it's a little extra pocket money, or major fines for logging and the likes. Genetically-modified crops and plants could help with this, too... If farmers had genetically-modified corn cobs that could produce twice the harvest in half the space, they might not be so desperate for land, right? Projects researching and legalizing these crops would ahve to be funded, and your average third-world country farmer probably isn't going to volunteer. So yes, I think the public can make a change... But it won't be as effective as with their governments' support.
Hmmm, what do I think of those who deny to help the situation... Move them to Greenland, Alaska, or Antarctica for a few years. Show them before-and-after pictures of glaciers, forests, rivers, and lakes. Ask them how they feel about dolphins going extinct, people's lives being endangered by drought, and having to wear air masks every time they go outside. Those people... I'm not fond of them at all, especially those working at oil companies. Sure, if everyone switched to solar, air, water, and natural-gas-powered technologies, those guys would be out of jobs and the guys at the top would lose the multi-million dollar industry that they leech off of, but really, what would you rather go for? I mean, look at it like this:
Okay, let's say that human-assisted climate change doesn't exist, and that humans aren't doing anything to make it worse. And then, let's say humans are taking action to reverse climate change. Human-assisted climate change isn't happening in this scenario;the world isn't heating up drastically or anything like that, but humans are spending and wasting money on the issue. So,the worst consequences of taking action on something that doesn't exist, is economic issues. Maybe at the worst, global economic depression. But then you look at the other side of the spectrum... What if human-assisted climate change really was happening, but we didn't take action? I'm sure you've heard a few predictions, right? More Katrinas, land (including Florida, London, and New York) being eaten up by the ocean, farms killed by droughts and storms, scarcity of sealife (and seafood! No, my sashimi...) caused by lack of habitat (dead coral reefs, sediments polluting the ocean, oil spills which could also be caused by storms, fights over freshwater (it'salready happening over Lake Chad, though a 2001 report concluded the lake's drying up probably has nothing to do with global warming), people getting cancer and other illnesses from inhaling polluted air, whole natural food chains spiraling into discord, diseases propagating as never before as a result of environmental catastrophes damaging septic systems and a lack of political unity to uphold a progrma like the Red Cross, etc... oh yeah, and then there's money problems. I'm not sure a nation can recover from such disasters without spending at least a little money... And unfortunately, it usually takes at least millions of dollars to recover from ONE disaster. What about a bunch simumltaneously? Just look at what Hurricane Katrina's cost. What if there were storms like the worldwide? It's a little extreme, but what if the worst does happen? This argument is elaborated here. I thank Tim Buckley for posting it on his site...
So, I ask you. Is it a better deal to preserve the planet, or not?
Did I go overboard again? Oh, and I forgot to put if I recycle or not... Well, I do, but I won't elaborate on it because I'm afraid of the character limit.