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Our Worsening Natural Disasters Aren't Just Tragedies — They're Signs of What's Coming

September 22, 2018 in Blogs

By Robert Walker, Independent Media Institute

Florence’s sluggish movement is a grand metaphor for politicians who have stalled on meaningful climate change action.


Call it “The Great Stall.” Hurricane Florence lingered over the Carolinas for four days, dumping some 30 inches of rain. Flood waters are still rising, even as Typhoon Mangkhut, a superstorm 500 miles across, rakes the Philippines, Hong Kong and crashes into China. Florence is just the latest in a long series of catastrophic events generated by stalled weather patterns — slow-moving systems which occur when one of the jet streams that flow around the Earth pinches off a massive section of air from normal wind flows for an prolonged period of time. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has compiled a long list of severe weather events in the US, and most of them are linked, in one way or another, to stalled weather systems.

Just in the past few months, NOAA has reported that “wildfires are burning larger and more intensely than before,” and that “unusually persistent harmful algal blooms” are plaguing Florida. The Western US is baking under high temperatures, while the Eastern US is “getting increasingly soggy.” NOAA has even reported that land areas in 2017 “recorded more than 60 days of extreme daytime heat worldwide, nearly double the 1961-1990 average.”

Whether it’s record heat, torrential rain or slow-moving currents, stalls can be catastrophic. Last year, Hurricane Harvey stalled out over Houston, dropping as much as 60 inches of rain in some areas and inflicting an estimated $125 billion in damages on the area.

Just last month, one of the leading climate research institutes, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, cautioned that the warming of the Arctic is “messing” with the giant airstreams that encircle the Earth and contributing to a slowdown in weather patterns in the mid-latitudes. As Dim Coumou, an Institute researcher, noted just a few weeks ago, these changes in airstreams can, together with other factors, create “extreme extremes.”

So long as the stalls continue to worsen, so will the resulting extremes. Hurricane Florence may be a …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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