Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Everybody talks about the weather . . .

But maybe not enough. And maybe we should do something about it. Let's start with this interesting event, entirely unnoticed, as far as I can tell, by the corporate media in the United States:

“Hurricane Igor will go down in Canada’s record books. Never before has a full-strength hurricane hit Newfoundland. The waters around Newfoundland are usually too cold for a hurricane to maintain its strength and remain tropical, but Hurricane Igor managed it. . . .

At 1,480 kilometres wide, Igor is also the largest ever Atlantic hurricane by gale force winds diameter, not just in Canada, but ever since Atlantic records have been kept. It reached that size just before striking Newfoundland. Even when just a category 1, Igor’s hurricane force winds extended outward nearly 165 kilometres from the eye! . . .

Even after it left the waters of Newfoundland and Labrador, Igor continued to produce near-hurricane conditions all the way up to Greenland, where it absorbed the remnants of Julia. The last remnants of Igor finally made landfall near southern Davis Strait, Greenland. In the process, much of south and west Greenland experienced high winds, with late September temperatures rising as high as 18 degrees Celsius right next to a glacier!”

After I posted that as a comment on Climate Progress, others weighed in. "I saw this headline in today’s on-line edition of the New York Times. “Water Use in Southwest Heads for a Day of Reckoning” Can anyone suggest a possible cause?" The commenter didn't supply a link, so here you go. Lake Mead is disappearing.

Then the commenter known as Colorado Bob noted that "The airport at Wilmington , N.C. received 10.33 inches yesterday . Needless to say , that’s a new record. But to set that record they had to beat the old one of 7.49 inches. There is one hell of a lot of water coming out of the sky right now." Meanwhile, in the Canadian west, "Residents of the Bella Coola Valley in B.C.'s Cariboo region are safe but stranded after a heavy rainstorm and floods walloped the region over the weekend. Steven Waugh, the emergency program co-ordinator for the Central Coast Regional District, said 204 millimetres of rain fell between Friday night and Saturday afternoon alone. 'It was shocking, absolutely shocking how much water has come down here in such a short period of time.' He called it "the flood of record," saying it far exceeded the last record flood in 1968." This is just part of a widespread pattern this year, as another commenter tell us: "Another weather related event that has gone un-reported in most media outside Canada is the fact that much of western Canadian farmland in the western provinces has received so much rain this past summer that many fields are still flooded. So if you think the food shortfalls from extreme weather in Russia, Pakistan can be made up from Canada you might want to re-think that."

And to the south, Mexico Landslide in Oaxaca May Have Killed as Many as 1,000, Governor Says. That's from a tropical storm, one of a series to hit Central America and the Yucatan this year. There's Pakistan, of course, still underwater; European Russia, with the hottest summer ever; oh yeah, it was 113 degrees yesterday in LA. They might as well move to Baghdad.

But does all this mean anything? Is there some unifying theme, some political issue that might be connected to all of this? Is it happening for a reason? Apparently not, at least no reason that the corporate media and political leaders have noticed. Maybe God is punishing us for gay marriage or something.


kathy a. said...

i did hear about hurricane igor, but because a friend of mine is canadian, and some of her relatives were affected. one was swept to sea and killed.

water shortages in the southwest are at least partly related to bad water policies and huge growth in places that can't naturally sustain the population. there are longstanding water issues in california, too. los angeles, for example, is huge and relatively dry -- it has depended for many decades on water taken from other places. these are problems in addition to climate change.

you are correct that climate change means more extreme weather in various places. it is not necessarily something that can be measured year to year, though your recent examples are sobering -- but scientists have been talking about trends over time, which are more solid evidence.

Cervantes said...

The recent shrinkage of Lake Mead is because of reduced inflow, not increased outflow, which is rationed. But you're right -- "shortage" is in relation to demand.

There is extra water in Lake Powell, which they will probably send downstream. That will buy a little time, but the day of reckoning is still coming.