Saturday, December 17, 2016

Is it dry enough for ya?

Originally published in the Westborough News on 09/20/2016

I have used my lawn mower this July about as often as I used my snow blower last January, which is to say, not much. My lawn is a lovely shade of brown.

By the time you read this, we will have come out from a multi-day heat wave in Massachusetts, where daily maximum temperatures exceed 90 degrees for 3 days or more. According to my backyard weather station (and the National Weather Service), this one lasted 8 days.

This latest heat wave is not the longest we have had in Massachusetts. That record belongs to a 9-day heat wave back in July, 1912, so we came darn close, but this heat wave is one of the top longest 10 heat waves.

The interesting this is, these long duration heatwaves used to occur on average about every 37 years. Since 1980, they occur about every 5 years.

Can we say that this PARTICULAR heat wave is a DIRECT result of climate change?

Technically no. There are all sorts of local reasons for any given weather event.

HOWEVER - the increasing frequency and extent of such heat waves is the direct result of global warming. Period.

This trend IS climate change. Right here, right now.

Summers here in Massachusetts are getting hotter too.  July average daily temperatures have increased over 3 degrees since 1900 and maximum daily temperatures by over 4 degrees. I am not making this up, you can see for yourself at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) web site and they will plot it up very nicely for you ( Your tax dollars at work.

June 2016 was the 14th straight month of record breaking monthly average temperatures. According to NASA and NOAA.  This year is on track to be another record-breaking year for global average temperatures.

This year is on track to be another record-breaking year for global average temperatures. So far, data from NOAA shows global average temperatures this year are already over 0.2 degrees higher than last year. That doesn’t seem like a lot until you realize that the amount of energy it takes to cause that global temperature increase that much is equivalent to the total energy output of the United States roughly 720,000 years which is a rather large number.

So here’s the scary thing. Last December’s Paris Climate Summit produced an agreement to limit warming to no more than 1.5 degrees C from 1900 but the current spike in global temperatures already have the world flirting with that temperature level within the next few years, even though the agreement is looking to accomplish this over the next few decades.

I look at the data and have come to my own conclusion that things are starting to move very quickly. I hope that this year’s rapid increase in global temperatures will not repeat itself. 2017 could be cooler than this year or last but unless there is a major volcanic eruption like Pinatubo in the early 1990’s, which temporarily cooled the planet, the chances of a next year being cooler are decreasing.

I am not writing this stuff to scare you. I am just stating the facts, because most of the day-to-day media aren’t doing it in a way that really emphasizes what we are facing when they pay more attention to a) whether Taylor Swift is dating Tom Hiddleston, b) whether Tom Brady was shafted by Roger Goodell, c) whether David Price was worth it, or d) whether the latest tweets from Donald Trump will finally derail his campaign.

In case you were wondering: a) who cares?,  b) yes, c) no, and d) I doubt it.

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