As the heat returns to western NY over the next week or so, I offer up some not – so – cool facts:
- For the United States, 2012 has so far been the warmest on record (going back to 1895).
- More than 22,000 daily record high temperatures have been set since January, affecting 28 states and 100 cities.
- Through June, more than half the country has been enduring some level of meterological “drought “. Maine is the only state that isn’t at least “abnormally dry”. Crops all over the country are literally “feeling the heat”.
- Wildfires have eaten through over 2.5 million acres of dried up forests and grasslands.
And it’s only July. The worst part of hurricane season is still over a month away, but we’ve already had millions of people left without power because of unusual weather. Chances are, there are more surprises to come. Things could very well get worse before they get better.
So are we looking at “global warming”? Climate change that is influenced primarily by human activity (carbon emissions)? Was Al Gore (and all of his charts) right? Is “crazy weather” going to become the norm?
In a word, probably. Nothing, after all, is certain when it comes to predicting the weather. But climatologists have come up with a number of models that seem to be doing a pretty good job of assessing the likelihood of different kinds of weather.
Last year, for example, Texas experienced a record heat wave caused, in part, by a La Nina weather pattern in the Pacific. La Nina patterns, in case you’ve forgotten, cool the waters of the central Pacific which, among other things, tends to make the southern U. S. warmer and drier. By looking at La Nina events in previous years – when carbon levels in the atmosphere weren’t as high – and comparing them with more recent events, they were able to conclude that “global warming” has made the chance for such a heat wave about 20 times greater than it was previously. They don’t say that Texas will experience a heat wave each and every time that a La Nina occurs, but they do say that the chances of it happening are significantly greater with higher concentrations of carbon in the atmosphere. This isn’t nutty left-wing ideology – it’s science and math. And it works. Not terribly good news for Texas.
Actually, not terribly good news for anybody. We’re all affected. Everybody. The whole freakin’ world. Which brings me to what I think makes this a nearly perfect storm – apathy and disbelief. I’m not sure about public sentiment in other countries, but I do know that nearly half of all Americans tend to believe that “climate change” is not real. It’s not even in the top 10 of “major issues” here in the U. S. And a fair percentage of those who believe it might be real think that its impact is somewhere off in the future. It’s something our grandchildren will have to deal with. But not us. Life can just go on as it is. No problem.
Part of me wishes that that were true. It’s kind of like one of those syfy movies where an asteroid the size of New Jersey has put the earth in its crosshairs. Impact in 17 days. Nothing will survive, not even bacteria. Hell, if you were one of the scientists who’d predicted a catastrophe as awful as that, I’m assuming that you’d be happy to learn that you’d made a mistake. Miscalculated. The damn thing’s going to miss. Oops.
So I personally would love it if I found out that this was all a big “miscalculation”. Put as much CO2 in the atmosphere as you want – it won’t mean diddly. All of the polar ice will come back, temperatures will cool, droughts will end, and thunderstorms that cover 3 or 4 states at once will be as rare as asteroids colliding with earth.
But if it’s really “real”……………
The heat waves will get worse. Droughts will get worse in some places and flooding will get worse in others. Crops will continue to suffer in some areas, driving food prices higher. We’ll stop calling very large storms “the storm of the century” because they won’t be. They’ll just be one more bad storm, like the one last week or last month or last year.
And so on and so on.