January 10, 2007

Americans Confronted With Warm Winters

This article makes me wonder if one of my red sisters is still convinced that global warming is a "liberal conspiracy." She lives near D.C., so she's been affected by this unnaturally warm weather.

One thing I should point out is that climate changes like the ones that have been happening in recent weeks are going to affect the middle latitudes the most. Here on the equator (S'pore is one degree north of the equator), the effects of global warming won't be nearly as severe as they will be, insha'allah, in the US or Europe. Down here, where there's more ocean than land, the heat from the sun turns the water into clouds, helping to block the sun's rays (reflecting the heat back into space). As a result, our climate remains a relatively stable 30-33 degrees Celsius (around 90 degrees Farenheit) every day of the year. Yes, we do have an endless summer, but the temperature isn't oppressive with heat waves and the like as you'll get in the US and Europe. So, if you live further north, expect your summers (and winters) to become much worse than it is down here in the tropics.

A week of warm temperatures in the middle of winter is now making Americans confront terms like climate change and global warming. Last year at this time the Big Apple was snowed in by a blizzard but today New Yorkers are walking around in T-shirts.

And it is the same all along the East Coast. Temperatures soared to record highs on Saturday, touching 70 degrees Fahrenheit in Washington DC, Northern Virginia and Maryland.

"I know very well that it's not supposed to be like this, so what does it mean?" said Karen Bukhart, Boston resident.

Meteorologists answer that El Nino is to blame. "It enhances the jet stream across the pacific and the southern states of the US. This produces a mild pattern for much of the United States," said Vernon Kousky, meteorologist.

But environmentalists warn that while El Nino may have been the immediate cause for the warm weather, there is more to this than just El Nino. "Underneath those reasons relates to global warming. Global warming is setting up conditions that are making it more likely for us to see these kinds of effects.

While it may be inappropriate for us to say that global warming specifically caused this one event it makes it more likely for such events to occur," said Dr Bill Chameides, Chief Scientist, Environmental Defense.

In Washington, the unusually warm weather has caused cherry blossoms to bloom three months early. While the flowers are pleasing to the eye they are also a cause of worry. Americans are increasingly wondering what is going on.

"It really concerns me. It is January 6. We should be in the middle of a snowy period, a cold period. Life and ecosystems need that full cycle to rejuvenate and something is wrong. All of the flowers are blooming, the cherry tree blossoms, the crocuses. I personally attribute this to global warming," said Laura Bowling, a US resident.

The United States, the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, pulled out of the Kyoto treaty in 2001.

But Katrina, the summer's heat wave, last week's snow storms in Denver and now temperatures of over 20 degrees Celsius in January seems to be sending the message home - that climate change is for real.

3 comments:

mo said...

assalam alaikum brother,

nice blog here, got here via google searching for muslim revert videos, you can also find some nice ones at http://www.turntoislam.com

Ann said...

Assalaamu alaikum,

Do you know where I can find predictions of how global warming will affect different parts of the world? I live in Kuwait (where we've actually had a very cold winter with it getting into the 30s Fahrenheit on many nights). I'm wondering if it's supposed to get even more hot here. I also think about the ahadith saying that the Arabian peninsula will become green again, and I wonder if the climate change is predicted to do anything like that.

JDsg said...

Most predictions of global warming's effect on climate change (that I've seen) have dealt with higher ocean levels and the ultimate flooding of low-lying islands, parts of continents, etc. I suspect most people discuss the flooding issue more because it's a short-term effect of global warming (climate change in the way you describe is probably more long-term). I do think, personally, that mid-level latitudes, like where Kuwait is, will have a significantly hotter overall temperatures in the future. Certainly that has been happening in the SW, especially Arizona (where I lived for 20 years). Overall temperatures in Phoenix had risen significantly in the past two decades, although I believe the "heat island" effect (due to Phoenix's growth in population) was also a significant factor there.

Still, yes, I think that we may ultimately see major climate changes that may make deserts become green again and green areas become deserts. If you're familiar with the movie "The English Patient," part of the movie deals with the Ain Doua rock paintings in the Libyan desert. The movie highlights a number of drawn human figures that are shown swimming. (Certainly not the type of art you'd expect in the middle of the Sahara!) And so, about 5400 years ago, the Sahara, which was once covered in grasses and shrubs, ultimately turned into the massive desert we see today.

It could happen, yes.