Thursday, December 07, 2017

WTF? Winter Storm Warnings in Texas, Mexico. California on Fire. High Arctic Melting.

Think of it this way. You may not feel it but you are firmly in the grip of climate change. There's nothing you can do to make it go away. It has a firm grip and it is going to tighten. It may not have gotten around to you yet as it has to others but it certainly will and your government is not doing a damned thing about it.

A week ago I posted an item about Springtime in Greenland.  The high north, Greenland and the Canadian archipelago, were basking in temperatures 20 to 30 C above normal, well above the freezing mark.

Today there are winter storm and snowfall warnings across southwest Texas and into northern Mexico.

Jump a couple of states over and you're in fire swept southern California where, in some places, the only thing stopping the spread of wildfires is the Pacific Ocean.

Hmmm, above freezing conditions in December in the Arctic Circle, winter storm warnings in the Texas/Mexico border region, wildfires sweeping southern California.

There have been many victims of the ongoing wildfires in Southern California, the largest of which is the Thomas Fire, a 101-square-mile monster blaze north of Los Angeles. The L.A. Times reports that the fire jumped the 101 freeway and was stopped only by the Pacific Ocean, along the way burning 50,500 acres, destroying 150 structures, and forcing 27,000 people to evacuate. Californians are used to wildfires, but Miller says these ones are unseasonable. “We usually get crazy wildfires in October, and then the first rains come in November, and ground stays wet and more rains come, and there’s no wildfire threat,” said [climate change activist, R.L. Miller]. “It’s early December .... This is happening because there is no more winter rain. There’s not enough winter rain, ever.”

Climate science backs up Miller’s observation. The state’s wildfire seasons are lasting longer and burning stronger due to human-caused climate change, as rising temperatures make vegetation drier and causes states like California to whip between very dry and very wet seasons. These current fires are so bad because of a mixture of dry foliage and low humidity, but also because of hot, dry winds blowing up to 70 miles per hour. This seasonal high wind, known as the Santa Ana winds, is not unusual for this time of year, climate scientist Daniel Swain told the Verge. But some scientists believe climate change “may be making these strong winds drier,” according to the New York Times. 

Eventually everywhere in the United States, not just the coastal regions, will suffer from severe climate impacts. Climate scientists have documented how global warming stands will hit the rest of America, whether it be through more extreme precipitation in the northeast or crop failure in the heartland. But reality has shown it to us, too. Hurricane Harvey brought Houston, Texas, its worst rainfall and flooding in recorded history. The risks of sea-level rise in Florida was made more apparent by Hurricane Irma, which flooded city streets and destroyed sea-walls. This summer, in Oklahoma, the temperature reached 100 degrees in the dead of winter.

This year’s mind-boggling extreme weather has shown us that climate change will leave few Americans untouched. And yet, so many states refuse to do much about it. That angers climate scientist Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University. “The other states—Florida, Texas, Oklahoma—are under the control of climate change-denying politicians who continue to bury their head in the sand about climate change as they do the bidding of the fossil fuel interests who fund them, with the people they are supposed to be representing paying the cost in the form of devastating climate change-aggravated damage,” he said.

Here's one way to tell if your provincial and federal governments are serious about climate change. What are they telling you about what you and everyone else in your particular region can expect in the way of climate change impacts? What specific recommendations are they passing along to help you prepare for what's coming in the short range, 10 years, 20 years? Are you hearing anything out of them? Chances are pretty good that you're not.

I find it a little odd that my provincial government is so good at warning my community and my neighbours about the earthquake peril that hangs over our head, the mega-thrust subduction zone earthquake that could arrive any time between this afternoon and a century from now. I get detailed lists of what to have on hand, the best emergency foodstuffs, first aid gear, communications and such. I know the best places to take shelter in my home and the worst.  Yet the "Big One" may never hit in my lifetime or even my kids' lifetimes. 

Climate change impacts, however, are a lot more certain and far more predictable. Yet we hear nothing from the federal or British Columbia governments beyond banal injunctions and platitudes. Instead they mutter on about carbon taxes while Trudeau continues to pimp for the bitumen barons. Did the Dauphin even read about the wildfires we had this year, fires so extensive that they formed a high pressure zone that sent the smoke from fires hundreds of miles inland out into the Pacific to blanket Vancouver Island. Wildfires from Mexico to Alaska and what's the Dauphin's response to that? Sweet f#@k all. Carbon taxes - yeah, right. That'll git 'er done, sure.

I'm sensing a window of opportunity that is at risk. If the Liberals don't really come to grips with climate change - both adaptation and mitigation (carbon taxes, etc.) it's a safe bet that, when their time has come and gone, we'll wind up with another Conservative government that will do even less. It's time Justin began giving the country as much attention as he devotes to the economy.


Tal Hartsfeld said...

It's not unusual for it to snow in Texas.
I've run into snow and sleet numerous times in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area in the months of December, January and February.
Of course it never lasts more than three days at the most before temperatures go back up to 50 (F)----at least until the next cold front comes through.

And the panhandle routinely gets blizzard conditions during the cold months as well (plus the fickle temperature changes in-between).

Anonymous said...

Anyong....I am afraid you are correct Mound.