Saturday, February 13, 2010

Intense Weather

He is not the only one wondering, "What's up with the weather?"

As the Clarion Content wrote last week on the front page, extreme weather is a part of a trend of increased global weather turbulence; from the snowstorms that have been dumping on the Eastern seaboard, to the massive rainstorms and deadly accompanying mudslides in Southern California. This weather is an an outcome of global warming scientists have long anticipated. A warmer planet is a planet with more turbulent weather, weather turbulence means bigger, more intense storms of all sorts, mostly because polar ice cap melting has significantly increased the amount of moisture in the atmosphere.

The signs of warming are everywhere. It is not just the extreme weather. One of the early advocates of population control, localized economy and an awareness of global warming, Bill McKibben writes in the Washington Post today, "in the mountains of the Northeast, for instance, lakes freeze later than they used to, and sometimes not at all: Lake Champlain remained open in winter only three times during the 19th century, but it did so 18 times between 1970 and 2007." So while the American South is getting slugged with snow, other formerly colder locales are getting unseasonably warm weather.

McKibben notes that cross-country skiing races in the Green Mountains of Vermont have been canceled. Canada has been trucking snow into Vancouver, the site of the Winter Olympics. Despite that logistical effort, it was just announced this morning that the men's downhill skiing competition at the Vancouver Olympics has been postponed indefinitely due to slushy conditions.

As we have noted, not all the impacts of warming are bad or harmful for humans, but those who deny the existence of climate change are on more intellectually specious ground every day. As the Clarion Content advocated last week, the focus of the debate must shift to what are the impacts of global warming and which of those impacts it is costs effective to attempt to ameliorate.

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