Monday, August 20, 2007

Weather Woes

It Really IS Floodin' Down in Texas

(I don't know if all the telephone lines are down.)

If you watch CNN, you would think that the big weather news is Hurricane Dean hitting Jamaica, or maybe the typhoon hitting China. Nice comfortable stories in that they don't effect anybody in the United States.

Surely you've heard about the flooding down in Texas, Oklahoma, and Minnesota that resulted in 13 deaths - but the big story weather-wise, at least in terms of death toll, isn't getting that much interest in the States.
From the BBC: A two-week heatwave in the southern and Midwestern US has resulted in the deaths of at least 43 people, many of whom were elderly, officials have said.

On Sunday, temperatures dropped to 94F (34C) in Memphis, Tennessee - the first time in 10 days they did not top 100F.

Alabama, Missouri, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, South Carolina and Mississippi have also been affected.
Mr Wharton said the city's "heat index", a measure that factors in humidity to describe how hot the weather feels, had risen above 100F every day since 27 June.

Weather forecasters said the temperature would be around 96F (36C) on Monday and remain close to 100F (38C) for the rest of the week.
Why isn't this story getting as much airtime as the others? Maybe because it can't be so readily dramatized by the likes of Tucker Carlson (who so infamously put himself in the path of Hurricane Katrina's 100-mph. winds live on CNN a couple years ago.) Or maybe it's just old news, the same old same old. After all, "Last summer, a heatwave killed at least 143 people in California." (Story) And anyway, just because a story has happened before doesn't mean that it isn't news anymore. In fact, the sheer number of weather-related news stories in the last few years is a story in itself.

More probably the US news services are silent on this because people in Big Oil don't like the media talking about something that can reasonably be attributed to man-driven global climate change. That and the fact that free speech is now limited to designated free speech zones by the government. (Apparently none of the big networks, or the cable channels are situated inside such zones.) But they are talking, at least outside of the USA - look at these two related stories from The Guardian:
Scientists Warn on Climate Tipping Points:
Some tipping points for climate change could be closer than previously thought. Scientists are predicting that the loss of the massive Greenland ice sheet may now be unstoppable and lead to catastrophic sea-level rises around the world.

In drawing together research on tipping points, where damage due to climate change occurs irreversibly and at an increasing rate, the researchers concluded that the risks were much greater than those predicted by the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

If the Greenland ice sheet melted completely, for example, it would raise global sea levels by seven metres. According to the IPCC report, the melting should take about 1,000 years. But the study, by Tim Lenton of the University of East Anglia, showed the break-up could happen more quickly, in 300 years. Professor Lenton said: "We know that ice sheets in the last ice age collapsed faster than any current models can capture, so our models are known to be too sluggish."
But nobody, even in Britain seems concerned enough to actually do anything about it.
Too Much Effort to Adopt Greener Lifestyle
Millions of people across Britain think their behaviour does not contribute to climate change and find it too much effort to make green changes to their lifestyle, a government survey suggests.

About a quarter of people polled agreed with statements such as: "It takes too much effort to do things that are environmentally friendly" and "I don't believe my behaviour and everyday lifestyle contribute to climate change". About half the people disagreed with the statements.
Maybe someone should consider the effort it will take to evacuate London, New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle*, and all of Florida and move their inhabitants about 50 miles inland. Wasn't the loss of New Orleans enough of a wakeup call? I think maybe everyone should watch An Inconvenient Truth again. And maybe click the TAKE ACTION link.
* - (to name but a few. Almost ALL of the world's largest cities are at or near sea level.)
"What changed in the US with Hurricane Katrina was a feeling
that we'd entered a PERIOD OF CONSEQUENCES
- Al Gore -
The only good consequence of this is that I get to post one of my all-time favorite live Stevie Ray Vaughan performances.

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