Looks can be deceiving. Our Southern Plains has had a milder than normal summer – with rains arriving almost weekly. Last week reminded us of our norms, but this week is supposed to be cooler again.
We could almost expect Sen. Jim Inhofe – of snowball infamy – to wander out and declare global warming a hoax.
Not so. Friday, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Administrator Richard Spinrad announced that July, 2021, was the hottest month in the 142 years that records have been kept.
Earlier in the week the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a report documenting the continuing warming of the planet, opening its Current State of the Climate section by saying, “It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land. Widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere have occurred.” (The cryosphere is that part of Earth covered by ice.)
The IPCC continues: “The scale of recent changes across the climate system as a whole and the present state of many aspects of the climate system are unprecedented over many centuries to many thousands of years.”
The IPCC assessment – “Human-induced climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe” – could have been ripped from the headlines.
• Greek Reporter announced, “Greece braces for worst heat wave in years; emergency measures announced.” As a result, NBC reported, “Greece wildfires rip through towns as residents watch in horror.”
• With deadly flooding plaguing Europe, German Environment Minister Svenja Schulze tweeted, “Climate change has arrived in Germany,” as reported by CNN.
Too much water or not enough?
• “Great Salt Lake is shrinking fast,” CNN reported. “Scientists demand action before it becomes a toxic dustbin.”
• In Bolivia, NBC reported, “Lake Poopo dries up and scientists fear refill unlikely.”
• Also from NBC, “Warming rivers in U.S. West killing fish, imperiling industry.”
And, regrettably, it comes as no surprise to find CNN reporting that, “Thieves in California are stealing scarce water amid extreme drought, ‘devastating’ some communities.”
The IPCC reported, “Each of the last four decades has been successively warmer than any decade that preceded it since 1850.” The consequences:
• “Many of the Andes Mountains have no snow cover due to long-term drought,” according to Huffington Post, which then noted:
• “Fire-friendly weather to return to Northern California,” and crews have been battling some of the largest wildfires in the state’s history most of the summer.
Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg, tweeted, that the IPCC report “confirms what we already know from thousands of previous studies,” adding later, “It doesn’t tell us what to do. It is up to us to be brave and take decisions based on the scientific evidence provided in these reports. We can still avoid the worst consequences, but not if we continue like today, and not without treating the crisis like a crisis.”
I admire the youthful optimism of our Swedish Canary (in the coal mine). But, the ongoing global disunity in fighting COVID-19 – other countries have proud-to-die science-deniers just as we do – bodes ill for any orchestrated approach to keeping Earth optimally habitable.