Sunday, May 29, 2011
Friday, May 27, 2011
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
|Joplin, Missouri, chipped by an F4 multivortex tornado May 2011|
Consider the BP oil spill and the Fukushima nuclear meltdowns which followed the megaquake and tsunami: while both were caused by a single improbable event, in both cases the disaster was ongoing and accumulated for many months.
Tornadoes on the other hand generally make for very short-lived disasters- it's all over in a few minutes, and the damage is very local. But this year it's different. We are in the midst of multiple waves of tornado outbreaks, well over 1000 so far, with now over 500 dead and many towns destroyed. And these are big ones- a half-mile or more on the ground, up to 60,000 feet high, 'multi-vortex' wedge tornadoes with 200 mph winds- enough to destroy a town, and even strip the bark from the shattered trees. As I write this on May 25, I'm watching MSNBC live coverage of softball size hail and large tornadoes stalking Dallas and Oklahoma City, and now, a little later, Memphis.
The same weather pattern, of hot humid air rising from the Gulf meeting arctic air riding down from the north on the jet stream, is predicted to continue for several more weeks. Tornadoes are expected tonight, tomorrow, and until the pattern breaks. So we're in the midst of another kind of 'long' disaster, a weather disaster.
"Across the nation and the planet, unprecedented extreme weather events are on the rise.
Last year, the Federal Emergency Management Agency declared a record 81 disasters, almost three times the average seen over the past 60 years, leading to $6.7 billion in total damages. Munich Re, one of the largest reinsurers in the world said, “The only possible explanation for the rise in weather-related catastrophes is climate change.”- Climate change makes extreme weather normal
"The last two months have been a whirlwind, sometimes literally, of wild weather: The deadliest tornado outbreak since 1932, levels of flooding unseen since the Great Depression. But as Texas’ eastern neighbor, Louisiana, finds itself ankle-deep in water rushing down from the diverted Mississippi River, the Lone Star state is immersed in a climate crisis of its own, complete with months of bone-dry land and thousands of raging wildfires."
- Texas Wildfires: Months Of Flames, Drought Devastate The Lone Star State
"The nation’s scientific establishment issued a stark warning to the American public on Thursday: Not only is global warming real, but the effects are already becoming serious and the need has become “pressing” for a strong national policy to limit emissions of heat-trapping gases."
- Scientists’ Report Stresses Urgency of Limiting Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Bill McKibben: "In Pakistan, Australia and now the center of the North American continent, we're getting a powerful taste of what global warming feels like in its early stages. . . "
-(McKibben, LATimes OpEd: 'Climate change and the flood this time')