Weather - what is going on here? Back at the end of June weather patterns set up the northeast U.S. for heavy rains and flash flooding. I wrote up the aftermath here. In New York state the damage was great enough that Governor Andrew Cuomo is considering calling a special session of the legislature to deal with it. When inches of rain fall in a few hours on a landscape which has been having a wet start to summer, it can become a mess very quickly.
Some discussion below the Orange Omnilepticon.
Here's the thing about Climate Change - while we're worrying about the effects that will take place over time, usually projecting ahead along some years into the future, we may already be seeing significant effects now. All it takes is a relatively minor change in some parameter to have consequences in real time. The two rainfall events mentioned above (and there have been others along the east coast) show what happens when weather exceeds expectations. We're just not ready for it.
Rain for example, can cause problems when there is too much or far less than expected. Civil infrastructure is a long-term investment built to cope with a certain range of weather conditions. We haven't been building storm drains, zoning flood plains, laying out roadways, etc. in this area with the expectation that we might get a month's worth of rain in a day. Out west they're wondering if there's going to be enough rain to keep reservoirs from going dry, grow crops, help with fire season. We went from a spell where the Mississippi nearly had to close to barge traffic, to flooding a few months later.
Scientific American had an article back in January about rivers in the sky (diaried here) that shows how the atmosphere can transport a lot of water a long ways before dumping it. An article appearing in Scientific American now raises the prospect that we may be seeing more frequent hurricanes. Researchers modeling the role of aerosols in climate change, apart from the effects of greenhouse gasses, got some surprising answers when they plugged in the effects of cleaning particulates out of the air. It turns out there's a possible effect on the formation of cyclones without sulfates in the air to reflect back sunshine. They'll be more frequent if the model holds up.
See, the point of this is Climate Change. It's not just about the planet getting hotter, it's about the climate patterns, the averages, the weather expectations we've built our civilization around beginning to shift out from under us. It's not going to be like throwing a switch; it will be an accumulation of both short term events and long term trends.
A rock rolling down hill may start slowly, but as it gathers speed it begins to bounce and swerve in unexpected directions - and it gets harder to stop the farther it rolls. We don't know where the bottom of the hill is yet, but we DO know it's better to try to stop that rock sooner than later before it turns into an avalanche.
Odds are, if the River in the Sky from the Gulf of Mexico keeps running up the Appalachians this summer, we're going to see more flash flooding. Make plans accordingly.
BONUS #1: New Scientist has a round up of books arguing whether we should try to fix the global economy or deal with Climate Change first, or maybe both.
BONUS #2: There is some encouraging news out there. The International Energy Agency projects:
Power generation from hydro, wind, solar and other renewable sources worldwide will exceed that from gas and be twice that from nuclear by 2016, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said today in its second annual Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report (MTRMR).
Help Us Spread the Word About Climate Change
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Thanks, as all of this helps build the Climate Change movement as well as introducing critically important ideas about renewable sources of energy.
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After a hiatus of over 1 1/2 years, Meteor Blades has revived his excellent series. As MB explained, this weekly diary is a "round-up with excerpts and links... of the hard work so many Kossacks put into bringing matters of environmental concern to the community... I'll be starting out with some commentary of my own on an issue related to the environment, a word I take in its broadest meaning."
"Green Diary Rescue" will be posted every Saturday at 1:00 pm Pacific Time on the Daily Kos front page. Be sure to recommend and comment in the diary.