Sunday, July 08, 2012

Heatwave

The heatwave snapped something in me; and Roger and I weren't even remotely a part of it. We watched it unfold from 3000 miles away. A few hours before the derecho hit on Friday June 29th, I grabbed this map from the NOAA's website and posted it on Facebook. I wrote that it freaked me out, that I could have a panic attack just looking at it.
Family and friends took a direct hit from that storm, and some were without power for more than a week. Being without power during a heatwave like this produces a misery that cannot go unnoticed. I know many of us are wondering and asking the same questions, "Is this the beginning of global warming?" Or if you hate the words "global warming" like I do, then, "Is this the beginning of climate change" from which ultimately there will be no turning back? Of course, you could just shrug your shoulders and say, "It's just Mother Nature." Or, "Does it matter how we got here?" I don't think it does anymore. We're here. It's only going to get worse, at least according to the computer models. Is it too late to do anything about it. I'm afraid that the answer to that is, "Yes."

Since Jan. 1, the United States has set more than 40,000 hot temperature records, but fewer than 6,000 cold temperature records, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Through most of last century, the U.S. used to set cold and hot records evenly, but in the first decade of this century America set two hot records for every cold one, said Jerry Meehl, a climate extreme expert at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. This year the ratio is about 7 hot to 1 cold. Some computer models say that ratio will hit 20-to-1 by mid-century, Meehl said.
When I was young, we had air-raid drills, and in our classrooms we did "duck and cover." People built fallout shelters in their backyards. We all thought that the doom of the future would come in the form of a mushroom cloud. That was the beast that had to be tamed. And yet here we are, facing a scenario that is as scary and fraught with as much peril, and we as a people cannot even agree that it is actually a problem, or what if anything we should do about it.
So all of this makes me wonder, do you have a plan? Is this something you think about? Okay, I'll be honest, I'm starting to obsess about it. I'm glad I'm 60 years old and won't be around when the record heat out paces record cold 20:1. I just fear for the rest of the planet and the young who will inherit this ruthless scenario.

13 comments:

  1. Robin, I've noticed a huge change in the past decade. And yes, it worries me for many reasons. What will our children do to fix the problems our generation has created? Not that I understand much but I do know the warming didn't happen without some help from us...

    We moved from Maryland to Delaware ion 2002, then from Delaware to North Carolina in 2005. Since then, we have experienced 7 years of drought. Last summer we suffered through 60 consecutive days of 90+ degrees without significant rain.

    This past winter was so mild that the Lantana and Verbena I planted in May 2011 returned this year.

    We are now sweating through over a week of 100 degrees, without rain. There might be a few isolated T-storms later this week with temps in the 80's. Well, we'll see about that.

    I worry about the fires, the power outages, and all weather related issues that are affecting my friends around the country and my family in the mid-Atlantic region.

    Like you, I want to be outdoors and I don't mind sweating. But this is unhealthy. My Boston Terrier, Bella, agrees.

    Thanks for this post.

    Mary

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  2. I see that I'm in the Excessive Heat Warning zone.

    No, I don't have a plan. I don't even have an inkling of a plan. I suspect the coming generations will muddle through. It will be the new normal for them and they'll wonder how we lived through the "ice age" of our time.

    You're right though. Few want to think about how we got here. Denial is powerful.

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  3. I surely won't be around, but I hate it for my children and their children. Hope fully by then they will have figured out a way to minimize it - or live with it.

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  4. I would love to follow your blog but I couldnt find out how I could do that.... My email is wimer1969@hotmail.com

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  5. Whether we caused it or it's part of natural cycles, we should be getting as ready as we can. it's easy to see how other species died off over changes. The earth is not static even if it appears that way over a period of a few thousand years. We should also do all we can to not cause warming but dollars dictate. When will the greedy learn they also have to live on this earth?

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  6. sadly, Rain, I don't think the greedy will ever get it.

    we have solar panels on the roof; we run the air conditioning off of it, but i never thought about what would happen in a power failure. I should ck that out. I wonder if that could be a good system for by-passing power outages in summertime? It sure keeps us cool and we surely appreciate it.

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  7. I obsess about weather too; you're not the only one! A few summers ago I read a book by Tim Flannery (I think that was his name) on climate change while we were in cool Scotland. We drove home, and saw brown fields from a lack of rain, and then suffered through the hottest summer we'd ever had here. I had a sense of impending disaster that summer, that never really went away.

    My feeling now is that climate change is "baked in" and there's not much we can do at this stage to mitigate severe change. And as for doing anything in the future to mitigate even further change, I don't see that happening either. There's no political will, not even in Europe, to do much more. And developing countries are certainly not willing to be left off the bandwagon when it comes to development and the CO2 and methane emissions it entails.

    So yeah, worry is appropriate. But you better find some exercise to relieve the stress, because there's not much any of us can do to effect change.

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  8. It's very similar here in Europe, we live by a river fed by glaciers all the way back in the Swiss Alps and water levels have been down to record levels twice in the last five years, due to excess heat and the glaciers shrinking in milder winters etc.
    I have no hope in mainstream politics, there are a few mavericks here and there but in the long run, what do we have?

    It's down to us, really, the way to respond to climate change is to reduce our carbon footprint and to trust that many small people, who in many small places, do many small things, can alter the face of the world.
    And to teach this to our children.

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  9. Like you, I am glad I am old enough that I probably won't see the worst of this. But I do have family, very young family that I fear for. The normal I grew up with is a far cry from what they may face. It seems we are content as a people to adapt rather than correct.

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  10. We have a large generator that will run the house for two weeks...longer if we are especially careful.

    I fear that I have no words of comfort about the situation. The big money depends on our continuing to damage our mother earth. And politics continues to depend on that big money. It's a vicious cycle that can no longer be stopped. We do what we can to be green, but our little contributions are like a few grains of sand on a very big shore. Or maybe sands in an hourglass.

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  11. A bit before 2000, Don and I began to find that hiking and canoeing had become quite unpleasant during high summer in Ontario. We waited all through winter to be able to get out on the lakes and rivers only to feel like we were being baked under what seemed an angey sun. We resorted to taking our holidays in Nova Scotia where we could hike and canoe in a place that never became as sweltering as it was back in Ontario. We made up our minds to retire in Nova Scotia which was supposed to happen in 2008. As you know, Don died before we could do that, but here I am in summers now. I keep an eye on weather in Ontario and it is frequently quite horrible there, especially in July when it becomes ridiculously hot and humid. I am glad to have a place to escape to in summer, but that is just my personal refuge. What about all the plants and animals that are being stressed by the changing climate. Fortunately, we never had children. I would feel terrible for them as I fully believe they will inherit an earth that might well be uninhabitable in any natural way within a few decades if not sooner.

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  12. From what I've heard, we may have already passed the tipping point. Too late for prevention. It may take a generation or more to undo the damage we've done to the climate.

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  13. Bev touches on my concern: humans typically figure out a way to adapt; there's all the other species that we're impacting...

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