Sunday, July 24, 2016

UPDATED: Scenes From Hell, And A Small Effort At Climate-Change Adaptation

It may seem rather pararochial that whenever I post video showing the current effects of climate change, I almost always post scenes from North America, despite the fact that floods, fires, heatwaves and other such apocalyptic signs are present throughout much of the world. Part of the reason is that compelling video of such disasters is readily available, thanks to the good coverage given by NBC, whose main concern is the United States. The other reason is a more basic one: while it is hard to relate to scenes of flooding, for example, from faraway places such as China, when it is in our backyard, i.e., North America, the perils and the threats seem far more immediate, urgent and relatable.

With that in mind, take a look at the following clip, which deals with the conflagrations so regularly engulfing California. For me, the scene that is most moving involves the efforts to evacuate both the horses and the inhabitants of a wildlife sanctuary. I'll introduce the second clip afterwards.

In response to my previous post, The Mound of Sound wrote this:
At some point, Lorne, the question becomes how we and our governments at all levels, especially provincial and local, will act on adaptation. If, over the next five or ten years, these "heat domes" you're currently experience worsen and become the norm adaptive measures will be essential especially in "heat islands" such as Toronto and the GTA. If summer droughts are recurrent it may be necessary for the agricultural sector to begin switching into heat and drought resistant crops. These things aren't long term answers. They don't solve the problems. They merely buy time. Perhaps we'll manage to get Trudeau or his successor to switch their focus from bitumen and pipelines into the survival of our civilization or is that too much to ask?
The issue of adaptation does come up in the following clip, a story about how rising sea levels are threatening the wild horses of Assateague Island, off the Maryland coast. Yet, as I think you will agree, the efforts thus far seem puny compared to the magnitude of the threat. Kind of like closing the proverbial barn door after the horses have escaped, perhaps?

Kate Snow, in introducing the above story, describes how the horses are under threat by "Mother Nature herself." Surely that is a mischaracterization. Humanity's collective willfulness, selfishness and mulish refusal to confront the threats we ourselves have wrought are surely to blame. And sadly, our natures seem to lack any real capacity for attitude or lifestyle adaptation to what is destroying us.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, over in the Middle East, things are equally dire.

On Thursday and Friday, with a strong area of high pressure parked across the Middle East, high temperatures soared above 125 degrees Fahrenheit, or 51.6 degrees Celsius, in Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and western Iran.

In the community of Mitribah, Kuwait, the high temperature rocketed to a record-setting 129.2 degrees Fahrenheit, or 54 degrees Celsius.

On Friday, Basra, Iraq, which has a population of more than 1 million, also hit 129.2 degrees Fahrenheit.

If the World Meteorological Organization verifies these records, they would become the hottest temperature recorded on Earth outside of Death Valley, California, which holds the title of the hottest temperature on record.

This would make the Kuwait and Iraq readings the hottest temperature on record in the eastern hemisphere as well as the hottest on record in Asia.


  1. That was compelling video. Don't you have a son and family in SoCal? The wildfires looked utterly hellish, bad enough in the wilderness of the Pacific northwest but an order of magnitude worse in an overburdened region like southern California.

    We had Nature's water bomber here in the form of a persistent Pacific low pressure zone that hovered just offshore delivering cool temperatures and rain to BC, Washington and Oregon. That kept forest fires mercifully low. Alaska, however, as you noted the other day, saw temperatures hit 30C. It's hard to grasp just what is going on.

    The Middle East is breaking records. On Thursday, Mitrabah, Kuwait, clocked in at a record 54C (129F) while Basra, Iraq, reached 53.4C Thursday and 53.9C on Friday. Basra is the site of a huge refugee camp housing Iraqis displaced by the fighting in Fallujah. Must be hell on earth for the displaced.

    1. Hi Mound. While my son lives in Alberta, he did arrange a trip to Southern California for us in March. I believe Owen has a sister in Orange county.

      About an hour ago I read about the terrible heat besetting the Middle East. I was thinking of providing a link in an update here, to balance out my North America-centric post.

  2. The farmers we're we live have just about written off their corn and soybean crops, Lorne. As for Southern California, one of my sisters lives outside Los Angeles. During a recent fire season, the water in her pool was covered with ash.

    You can't ignore the evidence before your eyes.

    1. There was a story in our local paper yesterday that says area farmers are facing very hard times in southern Ontario as well, Owen, and crop insurance will only partly offset the losses.

      Your sister's experience is very telling of the times we are living in, without doubt.

  3. To compound their heatwave problems in the M.E., they're experiencing power outages and that, in turn, is disrupting water utilities in some areas.

    1. Everything is connected, isn't it, Mound.