Whether the Weather Is Changing

climateI’m no meteorologist, nor do I play one on TV. But it sure looks and smells like we are in an era of serious weather trouble. Moreover, that’s the well documented opinion of hordes of people far smarter than I who understand this stuff. As a cynic, my original reaction years ago was that the enivornmental warnings were merely “Henny Penny, the sky is falling” Chicken Little rants– overdramatic and overblown. I thought they were merely pleas from leftist environmentalist types with Earth Day bumper stickers.

OK let’s cut down on pollution and drive in cars that use less gas, I thought (saves money, so that’s cool). Isn’t that enough? The weather is variable, right? Sometimes it rains a lot, sometimes it doesn’t. Same with the snow. Don’t sweat. It all evens out over time— or so I thought. But something is happening that’s a lot more than random. And now having been around long enough, I can now see that the weather patterns are different than when I was a kid. Since I’ve lived my entire life in the lovely “Garden State” (Exits 139, 131, 14, 98, 13A, 4), the change has nothing to do with living in a new environment. Same state, different weather. It feels dramatic and sometimes scary.

Again, more importantly, those far more knowledgeable say it is so, mainstream voices say it is so, and it appears it so. Looks like a problem, feels like a problem, acts like a problem….it is a problem. How bad a problem? Already bad, with worse around the corner. The most recent report is really disturbing. The latest study, The National Climate Assessment, was a substantial study authored by a wide committee of interested parties. The committee supervising the study was not driven by left wing ideology and the fact that representatives of two oil companies were part of the study gives it more, not less credibility, particularly given the warnings of the report. The report was incredibly urgent in tone and there was little argument on the severity of the issues we are facing. The following is from the New York Times, May 6, 2014 article, U.S. Climate Has Already Changed, Study Finds, Citing Heat and Floods, which recaps the study.

One of the report’s most striking findings concerned the rising frequency of torrential rains. Scientists have expected this effect for decades because more water is evaporating from a warming ocean surface, and the warmer atmosphere is able to hold the excess vapor, which then falls as rain or snow. But even the leading experts have been surprised by the scope of the change.

The report found that the eastern half of the country is receiving more precipitation in general. And over the past half-century, the proportion of precipitation that is falling in very heavy rain events has jumped by 71 percent in the Northeast, by 37 percent in the Midwest and by 27 percent in the South, the report found. In the Northeast, the report found a big increase in torrential rains and risks from a rising sea that could lead to a repeat of the kind of flooding seen in Hurricane Sandy. In the Southwest, the water shortages seen to date are likely just a foretaste of the changes to come, the report found. In that region, the report warned, “severe and sustained drought will stress water sources, already overutilized in many areas, forcing increasing competition among farmers, energy producers, urban dwellers and plant and animal life for the region’s most precious resource.”

belmarSo my everyman observation of more precipitation was not merely a function of horrific snow this past winter or torrential rain a few weeks ago. Or from the devastation from Sandy in 2012. Got to see that one front the front row as we have a residence in Belmar, NJ shown here (thankfully on the second floor).

I am glad the majority of us are now seeing the problem for what it is—real, severe and ultimately life threatening. This is not a United States problem. It is a world problem. It’s hard enough to get our Congress to work together on issues and when you layer in nations of the world, I fear for our inability to act. What makes it hard is that the solutions are not even well agreed upon and are costly. So the problems just keep getting worse. Time to act.

Because as it relates to our environment, “It’s A Small World After All”.

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