Have you noticed anything about the weather lately? Do the topics of global warming or climate change ever pop up in conversation near you? Do you believe things are changing? Do you believe you can do anything about it? Do you care?
So here we are in 2014. If you watch the news there have been extremes happening every year and 2013 was no exception. Want some details? Check out this collection of stories from The Guardian.
There have been lots of international meetings such as the recent one in Warsaw, but what is happening?
Does it matter? Maybe you figure it won’t be a problem in your lifetime, but do you have children? Grandchildren? What will become of them if the sea level rises?
My home is in a once in a 100 years flood zone, low risk hopefully, but still a risk. Many of our roads have sea water spraying over them during king tides now, what will happen if sea levels rise?
A lot of people scoff at global warming, especially when we are experiencing extremes at both ends of the scale, hot and cold. There is no denying that storms are becoming more aggressive and it seems like every day there is a flood or storm somewhere. Let’s just look at right now, today:
- UK Committee Cobra set up to discuss floods
- A foot of snow expected in the US North East
- Toronto issues extreme cold alert
- Cyclone Bejisa
- Cyclone Christine
Recent research suggests global temperatures could increase by 4 degrees by 2100. I won’t be around, but my grand children will be. If that happens and the sea levels rise, New Zealand will be interesting. We have already agreed that the people of Tuvalu can live here, but they are just one of the islands at risk.
But lets think about coastal mega-cities. We watch TV films depicting what life will be like, but we see them as Hollywood thrillers, not reality, yet we see news stories every day about erosion claiming coastal properties. What happens to cities that are on reclaimed land, or low lying cities. I’m not talking about my fatherland of the Netherlands, but how about Auckland, Sydney, Los Angeles, Manila or Mumbai?
Changes are happening, but some countries are still burning coal like there is no tomorrow (pun intended). We didn’t introduce emission testing in New Zealand, I was told because it was too expensive. We have a small population so can’t afford to do much, we are raising the height of some motorways which is good.
When I was in New Orleans last year, they were flat out raising the levees on the Mississippi, ironically at a time when the levels were so low that some of the river boats couldn’t make their usual trips. It’s mostly cleaned up now, but there is still plenty of evidence of the devastation caused by Sandy.
Of course it’s not just about super storms, or flood plans it’s about climate change. Weather patterns means changes to agriculture, movement of work forces, major disruptions to supply chains, problems with fresh water availability, I’m enjoying the longer summers, but I have cracks in fences and in the ground from last year that didn’t move back over winter.
This was just a bit of a ramble really, but climate change is something we need to think about now and we need to think about it starting in our own back yards. How are you going to be prepared, what will it mean for you? Are you ready for the next big storm? Are you ready for a tsunami? Do you know your evacuation route? Do you have an emergency plan? Do you think it will always happen to someone else or that it isn’t your responsibility?
Here’s a last thought from close to my home. In Australia this week, they are predicting potential temperatures of up to 50 degrees C. Last year Australia had the hottest weath, jobs, er in over 100 years. The thing is we are hearing these sorts of stories every year now. That means fires, that means lost lives, it means lost homes, jobs, businesses.
This is what happened in Australia at 30 degrees, imagine what 50 degrees could mean?