Weather patterns all over the world are unstable, generating excessive rains in some areas, while depriving other areas of it. Climate change may be a new phrase in our lexicon, but only describes the reason for changes we’ve been seeing for decades.
The old timers will tell you, maybe through a toothless grin, “I remember when it used to (insert weather event here) during the (insert favorite old-timer’s season), but it’s not like that anymore.” How much of that is rose-colored-glass nostalgia and how much is climate change? The numbers don’t lie, and climate change scientists have noted that, across America, we’re already seeing the change in weather trends. In a recent Fact Sheet released by the White House, “What Climate Change Means for Regions across America and Major Sectors of the Economy,” we get a boiled-down idea of the changes this country is suffering.
For example, since temperature records started, in 1895, average temperatures across America have increased by 1.3-1.9°F, the biggest increases noted since the 1970s. Because this increase is superimposed on a naturally-fluctuating climate, temperature increases aren’t uniform or smooth. Heat waves have become more intense and more frequent, longer-lasting and bringing higher temperatures, while cold waves have been lessening in intensity and frequency. Interestingly, while winter storms have increased in frequency and intensity since the 1950s, average temperatures have continued to rise.
Climate change has affected precipitation and the growing season in unusual ways. While the growing season is getting longer, because of the warmer winters, and precipitation is increasing, farmers are still having difficulties with their crops. The problem is that precipitation is only increasing on average. Some places are getting extreme downpours, while others aren’t even getting their average rainfall.
While the climate attempts to balance itself out, these kind of extreme events will only increase. According to some, it’s already too late to do anything about climate change. I kind of wonder if it will ever balance out, and we’ll enter a calmer phase of a new warmer climate, and then we have to ask, “Can we adapt?”
Photo credit: Tidewater Muse