Tuesday, August 17, 2010

How Hot Is It? In Texas, It's No Biggie, But Then ...

By Manifesto Joe

Six months ago, those of us living in this part of Texas were digging out from the worst snowstorm of modern times. Over a foot of snow fell, which is unheard of in these parts. Thick tree limbs snapped, and transformers blew. This city was crippled to the point of stand-still.

Six months later, we're on our 18th consecutive day of 100-plus-degree afternoon highs. Today it was 101, and this is expected to go on for another week, at least. But then, in Texas, we're pretty used to summers like this. In 1980, we had 42 such days in a row.

They are not used to it in Moscow. I saw that they had an afternoon high of 102 there not long ago, which must be some kind of record for that part of Russia. Plus, they've been having these nasty peat bog fires that have bedeviled firefighters and the military over there.

Climate change, assuming (pretty safely now) that it is real, is something that's happening so slowly that it's still a subject of debate. But climate scientists are noticing all kinds of extremes around the globe -- flooding in Pakistan, China and the American Midwest, the unheard-of summer heat in Russia, etc. -- and say those extremes are symptoms of what they've been warning us about for decades.

Even our record-shattering Texas snowstorm of February has a global-warming explanation. During the brief cold spells here, we tend to see sleet and ice storms more often than snow. Even here, in the northern part of the state, we usually don't see any of them more than two or three times per winter.

But it often gets, as they say, "too cold to snow," on the occasions when we do get stout "northers," as they are called down here. Sometimes there's ice, or sleet. At times the cloud cover breaks, and it's just clear and gets down to something like 16 degrees Fahrenheit in the very early morning.

Not in February. Here, we had a system that parked itself over the region, and the temperature held at 30 or 31. It snowed, and just wouldn't stop. The infrastructure here isn't built for all the weight that the snow accumulation posed, and it turned into a minor disaster.

If it had gotten 5 degrees colder, like it usually does here, we would have had a typical February ice storm and things would have gotten back to normal within 48 hours.

I've not dwelt much on the science of climate change, in large part because we don't stand to be that profoundly affected by it where I live. We already have extremes here -- long heat waves, brief cold snaps, tornadoes, even dust storms on rare occasions. I grew up close to the South Texas coast, and hence I've been through the dead-hit eye of a Category 3 hurricane. That's a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you really don't want to have.

Climate change probably won't bring anything to this region that we haven't seen many times before. But if you watch or read mass media, of course you know that the world revolves around New York, with a few assists here and there from L.A., Washington and Chicago. It's been hot in NYC this summer, too, and they're expecting it to continue in coming summers.

Even Washington has been a blast furnace, as illustrated by this post from Truthout.

I'd have to admit that I probably don't know any more about climate science than does Sen. James Inhofe, Retardican-Okla. But keeping an open mind seems wise. And from what we've been seeing this year, my money is on the opinion of the vast majority of climate scientists. Stay tuned.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

>>> my money is on the opinion of >>>the vast majority of climate >>>scientists

I'd just like to point out that ALL peer-reviewed scientists believe climate change is real.
There has NEVER been a peer-reviewed paper that claimed otherwise.
And, in the world of science, unless one is peer-reviewed, one isn't taken seriously (which is the way it ought to be).
The American Right-Wing's biggest "accomplishment" on the climate change issue is that they've managed to convince millions that there is still a debate taking place among scientists. There may be minor disagreements on specific details, but not on the overall premise that climate change is real, that it is man-made and that it poses a threat to the planet. Even Bush had accepted this toward the end of his time in office.