When I walk outside, I find yellowed lawns; some patches resemble straw. The sky is a smeared with smoke, a smoke that may last for the rest of the summer, challenging the respiratory of those with asthma or COPD.

Yet we have it relatively easy, around Fargo-Moorhead. Farmers suffer hardship, as crops dry under the bright sun.

According to the Bismarck Tribune:

All of North Dakota is in some form of drought. Exceptional drought, the worst of four categories, covers about 8% of the state — roughly the north central region, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor map. Extreme drought, the second-worst category, impacts another 40%.

This drought and smoke are just two examples of the chaos in our climate — the chaos predicted decades ago. A chaos too often scoffed at.

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Such extremes. The wildfires of the west – California, Canada, the Rockies – produce a smoke that has spread as far as the East Coast. In the Pacific Northwest, where temperatures would normally be in the 60s and 70s, find temperatures in the 100s, with people scrambling to find air conditioners. Forests and towns burst into flames, almost a spontaneous combustion and lives are lost. Not to be outdone, Great Salt Lake shrinks to nearly bone-dry, with the lowest level in 58 years, with the lowest levels, normally in October, yet to come. If it dries, toxic arsenic dust will blow. Even in Siberia, flames bloom.

Our son in the Detroit area says it rains nearly every day. In New York and New England, rain breaks records, even flooding subway stations. Swollen rivers wipe out buildings in Germany, buildings that have stood since the 1500s. At this writing, nearly 200 have died, with hundreds missing.

It seems the chickens have come home to roost.

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I recall overhearing a conversation, just a few years ago. In the midst of a cold wave, two co-workers were chuckling over the notion of climate change. But climate isn’t weather.

As one scientist put it, climate change is like the biblical Four Horsemen of the apocalypse: war, famine, pestilence, and just plain old death. We see protests for freedom, but also over the handling of pandemics or lack of food, in Cuba. The waters around Miami and elsewhere still rise.

Of course, climate change isn’t the only science–related issue. COVID-19 spikes up as many dismiss vaccines. Species, even pollinating bees, disappear. In North Dakota, we now have our first sanctioned radioactive water dumping site. Radioactive waste has no reasonable expiration and it can enter our water systems, hurting people, livestock and produce.

Especially given the political climate and the stoking of ignorance, it may very well be too late for reversal. It’s hard to believe that Republicans’ trust in science has fallen nearly 30 points since 1975, unlike other groups. Now we, Democrats and Republicans, only unify around…Britney Spears?

Is science fallible? Yes, but then it is checked. Science is real, whether we believe in it or not. And now, a harmed and forgotten planet bites back, screams in our ears. Will we listen?

Interested in a broad range of issues, including social and faith issues, Brickner serves as a regular contributor to the Forum’s opinion page. She is a retired English instructor, having taught in Michigan and Minnesota.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.