Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Gwynne Dyer - Blame the Sky Gods
Well, what did you expect? The gods of climate are almost certainly sky gods, and sky gods are never fair. But they have always liked jokes, especially cruel ones, and they have come up with a great one this time. The people of the temperate zones are going to get hurt early after all, but not by gradual warming. Their weather is just going to get more and more extreme: heat waves, blizzards, and flooding on an unprecedented scale.
“In 2012 we had the second wettest winter on record and this winter is a one-in-250-years event,” British opposition leader Ed Milliband told the Observer newspaper on February 14. “If you keep throwing the dice and you keep getting sixes then the dice are loaded. Something is going on.”
The “something” is abrupt climate change. In Britain, it’s an unprecedented series of great storms blowing in off the North Atlantic, dropping enormous amounts of rain and causing disastrous floods. In the United States and Canada, it’s huge blizzards, ice-storms, and record low temperatures that last much longer and reach much further south than normal. Welcome to the “temperate” zone of the northern hemisphere.
There have been extremes in the “temperate” parts of the southern hemisphere, too. Australia has just had its hottest year ever, with record-breaking heat waves and severe bush fires. Argentina had one of its worst-ever heat waves in December, and parts of Brazil had record rainfall, floods and landslides. But that is probably just the result of gradual, relentless warming. The abrupt changes seem to be mainly in the northern hemisphere.
Dyer says it's not our fault we didn't see it coming. After all, the deluge of severe weather events only hit the northern hemisphere over the past five years.
Dyer falls back on Jennifer Francis' now totally not controversial explanation of the polar jet.
Who needs Sky Gods? We can do this all by ourselves.