This year summer fell on the precise day spring was due to begin. Higher temperatures kicked in like a camel. Down here in the south, heat accompanied by tyrannical humidity arrived as quickly as Jussie Smollet departed Empire the TV show.
About 6 weeks into this Damndemic the first cyclone storm (Arthur) formed in the Atlantic on May 16th, 2020, and ultimately flooded most of the dirt oval-race tracks in North Carolina. Over the next four months the U.S. experienced an additional 23 named Tropical Storms. Most materialized earlier than previous storms from previous years and broke a speed record for alphabetical names used.
Damage in our hemisphere, so far, has exceeded an estimated $90 Billion. Our neighbors in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America bore a decent piece of this obligation. According to weather.com this year’s Hurricane Season isn’t over and is, in fact, worse than any other Season excepting 2005 when Katrina obliterated the Gulf Coast of Mississippi and New Orleans which remained underwater for 43 days. As usual, we’ve forgotten the other storms that blew in that year. I suspect we won’t forget this year as easily.
As I write this, we’ve exhausted the English alphabet and are assigning the Greek alphabet as a means to identify new storms. We’ve got a month to go and will likely get a few more by November 30th, the purported end of Hurricane Season. This week a storm named Delta is heading in our general direction.
Comparisons with other Hurricane Seasons indicate disturbing trends. Tropical storms have stopped consulting calendars so they start earlier each year and end later than usual. They hit populated areas with more frequency and hang around longer. Inevitably, this new breed of slow-moving Tropical Depression drops more rain than in the past. Hence, more and more inland flooding is taking place.
Storm surges, waves of water created by stronger winds, are measurably more powerful than previous years. These surges slam beaches, dunes, forests and swamps and devastate man-made infrastructures- dams, bridges, highways and roads, even casinos, not to mention adjacent businesses like Snow-ball stands. Storms and the tornadoes they spawn are, in a single word, bigger. Generally speaking, more people die.
That’s a bit of information about wind and water.
Now, let’s look westward and review wind and fire. To date, California, Oregon, Washington, Utah and Nevada report record numbers of acres burned with four more months of this year’s “fire season” left to go. Millions of acres, thousands of homes and businesses plagued by dry, arid winds and matchbox dry brush, forests and invasive tumble weeds are victimized by lightning, careless campers and pyromaniacs. Folks die as a result.
As I write this, the famous Napa Valley is ablaze, with several wineries and vineyards already consumed.
Everywhere it is hotter. Folks in New Hampshire and Maine now regret purchasing automobiles without air conditioning! I suspect that Hell’s thermometer reads cooler than in New Orleans where I currently live my new life on the couch and I understand why my rich friends move north to live on glaciers for three or four months. Either that or they are secretly clubbing seals for pelts.
On the topic of glaciers: We don’t have any down here in the deep south. Places with glaciers are far away from where we are so we don’t sweat it much if they melt. But, if you’re like me and you like to visit beaches where you dash across scorching white hot sand to get to the cool waves lapping the shore you may want to consider what’s happening to glaciers as world-wide temperatures continue to rise. This is particularly true if you want your great grandkids to experience “burnt feet.”
When glaciers melt the sea level rises and so do dammed-up lakes downstream of the melt. This is attributable to “anthropogenic warming,” big words that mean humans, not nature, are responsible for the new watershed. Many of us deny this but large numbers of studies are documenting that it is happening. The Weather Channel’s position is backed up by science. They say that, between 1991 to 2010, human-induced warming increased by nearly 70%.
Sadly, future forecasts call for more of the same. For the sake of future generations, let us pause to contemplate the idea that Global Warming may actually be, uh, real.
I can’t swear to it myself but I submit that we should lose a bit of sleep and fret about the undrinkable shark-infested salty seawater rising along our coasts that, over time, could swallow our beaches thereby eliminating future publication of Sports Illustrated “Swim Suit” issues!
What if we don’t do anything? What are the chances environmental changes will cause the end of our civilization as we know it?
No one knows for sure, especially me. But, in case it does, I intend to maintain friendships with good people on high ground in Alabama and Tennessee. Perhaps you should, as well.
In conclusion, here’s a final thought that will make some of you want to yell at me:
There are a lot of ways one can end up on the wrong side of history but I can’t imagine anything worse than ignoring facts that prove our mother planet is being abused by our behavior. Hurricanes, forest fires, melting glaciers, fire ants, shortages of toilet paper, are all happening while a certain virus threatens our well-being.
Above all, the consequences of inaction on our part will be borne by our progeny. A failure to act will likely leave them a passel of grief.
What will our great grandchildren think?
Chew on it.
Then let me know what you think: send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bob May is from Newton. His book, published in May of 2019, is available at www.havefundammit.com