Sunday, June 30, 2013

Global warming in perspective

By Frank Moraes

I know it's not global warming. Weather is not global warming. But here is the seven day forecast for my hometown of Santa Rosa, California: 106, 106, 106, 106, 95, 97, 91. Three days ago it was in the 60s and pouring rain.

This is not typical weather for this place at any time. The truth is that in the last decade, this area hasn't been getting as much rainfall as it normally did. I suspect that's global warming. I suspect that we will be seeing more and worse heat waves because of global warming. That's the thing about climate science. We've never been that concerned that average temperatures would go up by a couple of degrees. The big problem is extreme weather events. This five-day period of 100+ temperatures (yesterday was the same) will cause people to die unnecessarily. They don't die because it is a bit hotter on average. They die because a two-day heat wave of 99 degrees is now a five-day heat wave of 106.

The other issue, perhaps even more important, is rainfall. Hotter surface temperatures will lead to more rainfall. The problem is that all that extra rain and then some will be falling over the oceans. Agricultural areas like my hometown will be screwed -- as will all those avocado farmers in the valley. In fact, over the next hundred years, most of the really productive farm land in the United States will go away. Things are looking mighty good for Canada! (Not that they weren't anyway.) Siberia is likely to become very fertile land as well. (The reasons for this are complicated, but the main thing is that carbon radiative forcing affects polar regions much more than equatorial regions.)

Of course, all of this is very directly focused on humans. We don't really know what's going to happen to the ecosystems of the world. There is little doubt that global warming is going to be great for insects. So there's that. Whether it will be good for bees, specifically, we can't say. And if bees die out, we are basically screwed. Or it could mess up the thermohaline circulation and then we are basically screwed. Or... We are basically screwed.

But what does any of this matter?! I mean, ExxonMobil only made $41 billion in 2011. What are extra deaths, the destruction of American farming, and the decimation of ecosystems compared to shareholder profits? Really: we have to have priorities and it is clear what those priorities are. After all, you start cutting into oil company profits and soon it is a Stalinist hellscape. Except it would be cooler than the world we are headed for.

Meanwhile, it's still too darned hot:

(Cross-posted at Frankly Curious.)

Labels: , , , ,

Bookmark and Share


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home