I was reading an article titled “Inside the Summer of Hell and High Water” in a recent issue of Rolling Stone Magazine. Because of the intriguing points and facts made in the piece, I decided to summarize my thoughts in the blog below.
This year has seen catastrophic fires on the West Coast and Canada, Louisiana falling victim to TWO “thousand-year” rain events, and the first major hurricane to hit Florida since 2005. This summer was the hottest on record, including a record breaking 122-degree day in Palm Springs, and we are on pace for the hottest calendar year on record. It is a scientific fact that our planet is reaching hotter temperatures than ever before, and a “weather autopsy” following the nearly 30 inches of rain in Louisiana in August led to the conclusion that “human caused, heat trapping gases had likely produced a near doubling of the odds of such a storm.”
The most interesting statement in the article is that more frequent, more intense, weather-related disasters can no longer be considered “natural.” These events have been fueled by climate change, and if climate change is fueled by human-related activities such as carbon emissions, they can no longer be considered just acts of Mother Nature. They are the results of human consequences.
“SIMPLY PUT, A HOTTER ATMOSPHERE DEMANDS MORE WATER.”
The law of conservation of mass states “that mass can neither be created nor destroyed, although it may be rearranged in space, or the entities associated with it may be changed in form.” For example, the physical compound of H2O may exist in the form of ice (solid), vapor (gas), or water (liquid), but the amount of this compound available does not increase or decrease.
In an era of time where more water is needed, water is being removed from natural sources at an alarming rate. We are all aware the ice caps are melting creating high sea level, but do you also know the atmosphere is feeding itself with water from soil, shrubs, and trees? This leads to bone dry and drought like conditions, creating ideal fire fuel that are leading to wildfires as seen in San Bernardino and Southern California earlier this year.
“AN INCREASE IN FIRE RISK IN CALIFORNIA IS ATTRIBUTABLE TO CLIMATE CHANGE. IF EMISSIONS CONTINUE UNCHECKED…DAYS OF EXTREME-FIRE RISK IN CALIFORNIA ARE EXPECTED TO INCREASE BY A FACTOR OF SIX BY THE END OF THE CENTURY”.
The more burning of vegetation, the less natural photosynthesis, which is largely responsible for naturally producing and maintaining the oxygen content of the Earth’s atmosphere and supplies all of the organic compounds and most of the energy necessary for life on Earth. You can see the domino effect here, right? Making matters worse are the conditions following fires when the risk of flash floods are exponentially greater than just a normal rainstorm, much less than the super storms we are now seeing on a regular basis.
I am not one to get political, and it is not my intent to do so here, but I would like to highlight another point made by this article. There are powerful people who are flat out denying these threats, at best. Some are even looking to increase these threats by destroying international agreements and by increasing greenhouse gas emissions in the future. The worst-case scenarios are flat out scary.
It is a fact that disasters are going to happen, whether they are titled “natural” or not. The fact is disasters are getting worse and more frequent. This is undeniable. The best things we can do are prepare and plan for events before they happen to minimize the potentially devastating, community crippling, and life threatening impacts.