Bearing Witness to Climate Change March 2019

  • A brutal winter is coming to an end in the U.S. where unseasonable cold weather in the Midwest meets up with warmer moist air in the south to create over three dozen tornadoes over one weekend which devastated whole towns and killed dozens of Americans. In more extreme weather events, record wind gusts for February in the Northeast blow past historic records like a 171 mph reading atop Mount Washington.
  • A new study in the journal Nature Climate Change reports that the world’s oceans have absorbed more than 90 percent of the heat trapped by greenhouse gasses since the mid-century. Heat waves in the oceans are thought to be occurring 34% more frequently and lasting 17% longer. Foundational species of aquatic life are being threatened which may cause the collapse of entire ecosystems.
  •  In an apocalyptic new book “The Uninhabitable Earth” the author David Wallace-Wells tells Americans it is time to panic. In a NYT editorial He warns that we are pass the point where small individual measures at reducing our carbon footprint can save us from a future of dramatic change to our planet, economies, security, health, and humanity. The world is on track for temperatures to rise nearly 4 degrees by the end of this century. Cataclysmic events will likely follow from disruption of food production, mass human migration, ecosystems devastated, oceans dying off, famine, water wars, permafrost melting, coastal flooding, and the list goes on and. He advises that only huge new policy changes at national and global levels will save us. Is anyone listening?
  •  Organizers of an around-the-world sailing race held every four years are confronting the reality that the weather in Southern Oceans has become so severe in recent years they may be forced to all off the event. This year’s race saw numerous sailboat demastings and other emergencies due to storms in the southern hemisphere.
  •  One of the lowest-pressure storms, now called a bomb cyclone whips near-hurricane strength winds across the upper Midwest in the second week of the month. Winds of up to 100 mph topple trees, trucks, and buildings from Colorado eastward.
  • In more extreme weather, this winter is heading to be the wettest on record for the continental U.S. Massive flooding is expected this spring across the Missouri and Mississippi river basins as heavier than usual snow packs begin to thaw.
  • Across the world hundreds of thousands of students take a strike day from school and demonstrate to plead with their governments to start taking more action to protect their futures and that of the planet.  The U.N. head Antonio Guterres states the obvious that the generation in power now has simply failed to deal with climate change and the consequences which are becoming more dire and irreversible the longer we wait.
  •  University of California Researchers have found dozens of species of marine life have been migrating northward due to warming pacific coastal waters. Water temp in northern california has increased by some 3-7 degrees F in recent years.
  • Japan reports that a changing weather patterns is threatening winter tourism who come to see the giant snow monster forests of norther Japan. In Alaska, a lack of snowfall and warming temperatures has caused changes to the annual Iditarod dog race where they now have to bring in snow along some sections of the race. Montana has just experienced the coldest spell on record with temperatures running 20-30 degrees below normal for weeks at a time. Dozens of sites broke monthly low temp records.
  • Studies are circulating around NYC to make the island of Manhattan more climate proof by expanding it to build a huge seawall to protect it from rising sea levels and worsening Atlantic storms. The cost is estimated to be over $10B.
  • News reports about a new study in the Journal Science has found that seafood stocks are declining as the world’s oceans continue to warm. It is said by some that the oceans absorb over 90% of the heat trapped by greenhouse gasses.
  • In a rare bit of good news, a federal judge has blocked new oil and gas drilling leases in Wyoming because the BLM did not consider the harm from emissions that contribute to green house gasses and climate change.
  • Devastation, despair, and death strikes Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Madagascar  from one of the largest and longest-duration cyclones, Cyclone Idai, to ever hit Africa.  Over 1,000 are estimated to have died with several million refugees in need of assistance due to largely to flooding that created an inland ocean.  Another example of the world’s poorest people feeling the impact of a changing climate with more extreme weather events.
  • Back in the US the upper Midwest states of Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri along the Missouri River basin experience the worst flooding in modern history from unusually heavy rains over frozen snow packs from a bomb cyclone type weather event. Levees have been breached, vehicles abandoned, entire towns flooded, farms ruined, roads closed, families evacuated, livestock drowned, and states of emergencies declared. Damage and costs are expected to exceed one billion dollars.  NOAA issues a warning that this year’s spring flooding could be the worse seen in recent years.
  • The U.S. Air Force is seeking of $5B to rebuild and repair two bases heavily damaged by natural disasters. One of them was in the direct path of Hurricane Michael last year that intensified so quickly over warmer than average gulf waters it took everyone by surprise.
  • A Federal Reserve Bank researcher published a paper encouraging the nation’s bank to prepare for the financial cost and shocks to the economy of climate change due to massive losses experienced by the public and private sectors.
  • Global energy related emissions for 2018 are still be finalized but are expected to reach an all-time high of 33 billion tons of carbon dioxide. This is a growth rate of 1.7%, the fastest since 2013. While the rate is small, it is alarming as we should be decreasing carbon emissions not increasing them. Many scientists warn we are careening off an irrecoverable cliff and we have less than 10 years to reverse the trend.
  •  A United Nations agency, the World Meteorological Organization, reported that during 2018 some 62 million people around the world were impacted by weather-related disasters. The U.N. Secretariat General warned that climate change is a security and health issue for the world.
  • A new study on tropical diseases predicts that climate change will put billions of more at risk of mosquito-borne diseases in the next 50 years.
  • Sadly, as public protest builds, some state government legislatures are cracking down on protesters of pipelines and new oil fields.