As if to emphasize the state of this looming environmental catastrophe, hundreds of scientists from 13 federal agencies produced a 1,600 page National Climate Assessment that, by law, had to be released by the White House. Trump's response to this massive professional assessment? "No, no I don't believe it." Those are the words of a lunatic. As if whatever he chose to believe was what mattered, not what science foretold. This coming from the man who never takes responsibility, who never admits when he's wrong, who always summons up a scapegoat to wear the blame for his massive blunders.
Just off the top of his head, climate scientist Kevin Trenberth can recount many of the weather disasters that hit the planet in 2018. Record rainfall and flooding in Japan, followed by a heat wave that sent tens of thousands of people to the hospital. Astonishing temperature records set across the planet, including sweltering weather above the Arctic Circle. Historic, lethal wildfires in Greece, Sweden and California, terrible flooding in India, a super typhoon with 165-mph winds in the Philippines, and two record-setting hurricanes that slammed the Southeast United States.
“Climate change is adding to what’s going on naturally, and it’s that extra stress that causes things to break,” said Trenberth, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. “It takes the experience well outside anything that’s been experienced before. It crosses thresholds. As a result, things break, people die, and things burn.”
... But it was definitely a hot and perilous year. Perhaps most striking were the temperature extremes. It was not the hottest year on record in terms of overall global temperature — the three previous years were slightly warmer — but many places around the planet set high-temperature records.
Africa may have endured the hottest temperature ever reliably measured since record-keeping began: 124.3 degrees Fahrenheit in the Sahara Desert city of Ouargla, Algeria, on July 5.
That same day, temperatures may have reached 90 degrees F. on the coast of the Arctic Ocean in northern Siberia. And in the Middle East, the low temperature of the day in Quriyat, Oman, on June 28 was 109 degrees F.
...Trenberth believes that major reports from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the U.S. National Climate Assessment have been too conservative in estimating the costs of changing climate.
“Climate change is here, and it’s already costing tens of billions of dollars a year. I think the climate costs in the future are greatly underestimated,” Trenberth said.Will 2019 be worse than 2018, even 2017? Who knows? Climate change, if it's taught us anything, is not linear. It shows up in spikes, peaks and troughs. Those highs and lows, averaged out, give us a year by year, climate picture.
My wish for the New Year is that we somehow manage to close off the Memory Hole where every major climate report of the last decade and more has vanished from public consciousness within a matter of days. There's a stacatto rhythm to these reports as they come and just as quickly go and, by losing sight of them, we lose our ability to clearly hear that "raging, howling signal."
We have unwittingly become masters of "creeping normalcy," a form of mass amnesia where the past is rapidly forgotten and the present, whatever it may be, is accepted as normal. We lose the signal and so momentum for change stalls even as the climate challenges grow rapidly and the window of opportunity to deal with them narrows.
As for what 2019 holds in store for us, all I can say is - brace yourself.