Weather extremes the new normal

It’s weird, the weather. Or it may just be that it is obvious. Depends on whom you talk to. Climate change has been on the march for a while now, or it may just be a phenomena – what has been happening lately – in the earth’s cycle.

 –Doug Green, Publisher

For example, this week the highest waves ever recorded off the coast of Hawaii; Australia coming to terms (again) with searing heat and the unpredictability of bushfires and extreme temperatures; the USA where a third of the population was recently affected by unrelenting and totally unexpected freezing temperatures and huge snow storms and winds. At the end of 2013 cyclones in The Philippines.

Changes in extreme weather threaten human health as well as prosperity. Many societies have taken measures to cope with historical weather extremes, but new, more intense extremes have the potential to overwhelm existing human systems and structures.

More frequent and more severe extreme weather events are more likely to destabilise ecosystems and cripple essential components of human livelihood, such as food production, transportation infrastructure, and water management. Death, disease, displacement, and economic hardship may follow, as we have seen with recent hurricanes, floods, heat waves, and droughts.

As the earth’s climate has warmed, some types of extreme weather have become more frequent and severe in recent decades, with increases in extreme heat, intense precipitation, and drought.

Heat waves are longer and hotter. How can it be that in Australia, for example, they talk of temperatures of 50 degrees being the new normal in some areas?

Heavy rains and flooding are more frequent. In a wide swing between extremes, drought, too, is more intense and more widespread.

 So we adapt – and need to adapt – to move on.


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