Although the evidence is overwhelming, politicians and the public still are not willing to deal with climate change. Now, both NASA scientists and the Texas state climatologist agree that the 2011 Texas, Oklahoma, Mexico drought was made worse by climate change.
Click on the map, move to May 2011, and you will see Merida, Yucatan in “Extreme Drought.”
For an insight into how much worse, look at 2011’s position on this chart – hotter and drier than the dust bowl of the 1930s and any time in the last 116 years… by a wide margin:
Several scientists at NASA and the state climatologist say the record-setting heat and drought of last summer in Texas was made worse by climate change.
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Both scientists agree that the year would have been hot and dry no matter what, but that climate change made it worse.
In other words, nature made it a record,” Nielson-Gammon wrote after reviewing Hansen’s paper. “Climate change made it a phenomenal record.”
At the same time, Climate Central, in a recent report on PBS Newshour, likened rising sea levels to a bullet. You can hold a bullet in your hand and it is harmless. You can throw it and it is still generally harmless. But if you fire it from a gun at high speed, it is deadly dangerous.
In the same way, the slight amount of sea level rise that is already being experienced, and will continue to be seen in the next century and beyond, is not by itself dangerous, but it doubles the risk of much higher storm tides and destruction from hurricanes. Just that “little bit” more water, combined with the high speed of a hurricane or even a tropical storm at high tide, will increase damage greatly.
For example, where a Category 4 hurricane may have caused a certain level of damage in the past, perhaps a Category 2 hurricane will cause the same amount of damage in the not-too-distant future.
Take sea level rise + storm surge + tide and the potential for damage rises geometrically. The Surging Seas Map can be found at the link (blue box on upper right) along with an explanation of how to use it to preview the impacts we can expect.
Global warming has raised global sea level about 8 inches since 1880, and the rate of rise is accelerating. Rising seas dramatically increase the odds of damaging floods from storm surges. A Climate Central analysis finds the odds of “century” or worse floods occurring by 2030 are on track to double or more, over widespread areas of the U.S. These increases threaten an enormous amount of damage.
Across the country, nearly 5 million people live in 2.6 million homes at less than 4 feet above high tide — a level lower than the century flood line for most locations analyzed. And compounding this risk, scientists expect roughly 2 to 7 more feet of sea level rise this century — a lot depending upon how much more heat-trapping pollution humanity puts into the sky.
Another report on Climate Central’s findings is found here.
Finishing off with some good news, Deutsche Bank says that a $279 billion investment in energy efficiency would save Americans $1 trillion, create 3.3 million new jobs, and reduce CO2 emissions by 10%.
The full report (50 page full color PDF) contains specific recommendations for programs and funding levels. More than 3 to 1 payback, millions of new jobs, reduced impact on climate change… what’s not to like?
Only ideologues prevent us from moving forward. Not content to prevent progress, they are determined to drag us back into the past, making everything worse for their own children. Never a good plan.
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Over the last dozen years, the changes in Yucatan have been obvious to anyone here year round: once-regular afternoon showers cooled the hot summer days, but these are increasingly sporadic. Winters are more unpredictable. The hot months of March, April, May, June are increasingly hotter. The vast stores of underground water flowing northward to the sea are filled by rains in the cloud-forests of Central America. Those rains must continue in order to maintain Yucatan’s fresh water supply. Will they in less predicable weather patterns?
Which side carries the most risk? Doing something — attempting to lessen our contribution and the subsequent impact? Or doing nothing and counting on luck?