Cross-Posted from oneislandinthesky.blogspot.com
I didn't think much about climate change during the last few months, partly because I was working on graduating from college and partly because I was tired of imagining doomsday scenarios and wanted to bury my head in the sand.
Unfortunately (fortunately?) the recent weather has made the possibility of catastrophic climate change a little bit more difficult to ignore. In the storms that blew through the area during the last week and a half, we lost power twice and saw a half dozen trees felled in our neighborhood. The morning after each of the storms, the view out our windows looked more like the aftermath of a hurricane than a thunderstorm. The road was littered with leaves and branches, and on a trip to Home Depot for house renovating supplies, one of the customer service reps showed us a video of a tornado generated by the storm on the security camera. In the recording, spiraling winds fling fifty-five pound pieces of construction materials through the air like sheets of paper.
This is not normal weather. Want proof? Check out the heat index map above.
In the last eleven days, more than 2,000 heat records have been matched or broken, and the crazy heat waves are part of what caused the crazy storms. But it's not just derechos storming through. The entire American southwest is or was recently on fire. People are losing their homes, droughts are devastating crops, and -- right -- people are dying.
Scary stuff, right? And it's probably our fault. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently released a report linking extreme weather events to anthropogenic activity. As much of a climate activist as I'm wont to be, I'm also a skeptic when it comes to new information. But...I think it's time to stop being skeptical, when people are dying in this weather.
Here in the DC area, we haven't been hit as hard as a lot of the rest of the country, never mind the rest of the world. (My household suffered even less than most of DC. Our ice cream melted, and thanks to a falling tree branch I have a tiny new dent in my car. Rough stuff to bear). Still, there are plenty of people without air conditioning in stifling heat, and if you're elderly or ill, that just might be too much.
Maryland and D.C. both declared a State of Emergency, but you can't really do that on a permanent basis. Maybe this "Summer of Storms" will be the wake up call we all need.