Wednesday, May 07, 2014

National Climate Assessment: weather extremes seem to happen more often because of overall warming

The National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee has released its Third National Climate Assessment, all available here. The New York Times shows the map at the top of its front pages story by Justin Gillis, here.
The media has republished its findings, including maps of the US showing rising temperatures in the coastal northeast and mid-Atlantic, northern plains, and extreme southwest.  While temperatures rise as a whole, extreme cold snaps in winter are possible and temperature swings rapid and extreme.  And incidents with torrential rains become more common.

Just last week, parts of the Florida Panhandle were inundated with twenty inches of rain.  A road collapsed near railroad tracks in Baltimore, and in an area in southern Prince Georges County, MD a hillside collapsed, threatening over twenty homes.

A few days ago I dreamed that my home had been obliterated by an EF4 tornado while I was away.  There was an F4 tornado in Frostburg MD, in mountains, in 1998, and another in La Plata, MD, in flat country near water, in 2002.  But the danger is that a warmer world could stir long tracking tornados to form in areas where they normally do not, even east of the Appalachians.    
One practical danger is to arrive home and find one is not allowed in the home because of local government condemnation or neighborhood closures, even to pick up laptop computers and go to a hotel and continue working.  While property insurance companies normally pay hotel expenses for displacement, there is a practical risk of experiencing life in a shelter and “homelessness” for anyone.
John Holdran, President Obama’s science advisor, discusses the report here.

Climate change is also a generational problem.  Younger generations will have to fix or live with the problems caused by their ancestors.  It is also international.  The US was the biggest “abuser” in the past as it built its standard of living without regard to the environment sometimes, and now China and other developing countries want the same “privilege”.  There's a lot one can talk about in how family structure affects consumption patterns in a way to impact climate change, and it goes both ways.  I do most of my own exploration alone, often by car.  I do think about it.  

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