Climate

August 12, 2021

We received the three screens several days ago taken for repair when our gutters were installed two weeks ago.  Melissa suggested I should get the screens back up as the birds are coming into our porch and creating havoc by knocking over the succulents on the shelving.  I had been intending to do this, but like most things it involved a process.  Even though we have a brick house, the eaves and trim are composition siding.  When the new gutters and soffit were installed, I noticed the outside of the house needed to be painted.  Since the screens were down and I need to paint I thought it might be good to paint the porch windows prior to reinstalling the screens.  What kept me from painting is the extreme climate we have experienced since the screens were returned.  While I knew I needed to do the work, I was reluctant to take the risk of working in the heat.  I installed the screens despite the heat.

This week the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its first major report in nearly a decade, warning the Earth could face runaway global temperature changes unless drastic efforts are made to reduce greenhouse gases.  The IPCC says humans are “unequivocally” to blame for the climate crisis, which has already caused “widespread and rapid changes.”  Scientists concluded the average global temperatures will likely rise to 2.7F (1.5C) above preindustrial levels by 2040 based on carbon emissions already in the atmosphere.  The report also warns temperatures will continue to rapidly warm after 2040 unless immediate action is taken now.  According to the lead authors of the IPCC report, “The changes we’re seeing now are widespread.  They’re rapid.  They’re intensifying.  They’re unprecedented in thousands of years.”  Those who dispute the effect of climate change have taken an approach like that of the Storm Trooper in Star Wars, “Nothing to see here, move along.”

After spending a week with extreme heat warnings, Arkansas dipped to below average for a week.  Now we are again caught in extreme heat warning during this week.  Arkansas currently averages about 30 dangerous heat days a year.  The state is projected to see nearly 90 such days a year by 2050.   Excessive heat brings other changes as well.  Greater weather extremes at both ends of the spectrum relates to a simple physical relationship.  The higher the air temperature, the more water vapor it can store.  Rainfall can be heavier (floods), but then results in severe droughts (and fires) elsewhere.  Many consequences of global climate change are already irreversible, at least for decades.  Increased ocean temperatures have killed off massive swaths of coral reefs and sea levels have risen one inch every decade for more than a century.  Catastrophes on a global scale have begun (melting ice caps and shifting Gulf Stream) and will only get worse without addressing climate change.  Seems there really is something to see.

Thoughts:  One of the sites I checked stated the amount of climate change to expect and went on to cite ways to adapt to this new reality.  While ideas to mitigate the heat and adapt are good (planting trees and vegetation to replace the concrete and asphalt), I was left thinking we have already given up.  The heat will alter bird migration patterns and cause warmer species to move north.  Sea level rise will flood coastal cities and crowd the existing interior.  Perhaps the old song is closer than we think,” I’ve got some ocean front property in Arizona.”  Combatting climate change involves a process.  Some of the effects may already be irreversible but doing nothing will only make things worse.  Follow the science.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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