* Light showers likely today (warm enough aloft for rain).
* Touch of Indian Summer by Saturday – 60 quite likely.
* China using weather modification to make snow, trying to ease the worst drought in nearly 40 years.
* Roughly 1 in 3 Americans now believe that global warming is a serious issue, the result of man-made greenhouse gases.
Here in the Land of Low Weather Expectations it doesn’t take much to get us excited. Statewide, October will probably wind up being the third wettest and fifth coolest in modern-day records, according to University of Minnesota climatologist Mark Seeley. More evidence of imminent global cooling? Not exactly. Keep in mind September was 5.5 degrees F warmer than average; statewide it was one of the 10 warmest ever recorded for most Minnesota towns. It’s easy to confuse short-term gyrations “weather”, from longer-term trend, “climate”.
I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: weather is CNN Headline News (without Nancy Grace, please). Climate is the History Channel. Weather is “will I need shorts or a heavy jacket?”. Climate is the ratio of shorts to heavy jackets in your closet at home. Three years ago roughly 77% of Americans believed that climate change was real – they agreed with a majority of the world’s leading climate scientists (including NOAA, NASA and EPA) that the Earth’s atmosphere was warming, and the most likely explanation was man-made greenhouse gases. According to a recent survey from Pew, that 77% number has fallen to 57%. Approximately half of all adults believe global warming is “real”, and even smaller number, 36%, believe that human activities are making the atmosphere warmer, and that this constitutes a real threat.
What happened? A reaction to perceived media hype? Global warming fatigue? Ignorance, greed, apathy? A threat to our “way of life”? Perhaps it’s fallout from the worst recession since the 1930s. Getting/keeping a job is a priority – believe me, I get it. I have no idea what’s going on. Suspicion that it’s all a scam to create new “green” technologies and enrich more greedy entrepreneurs? I scratch my head, wondering how a nation so smart, so forward-thinking, so compassionate, innovative and historically open to science, can turn away from this issue. Maybe if we ignore it – it’ll just go away! Maybe. Global temperatures have leveled off a bit in recent years, but there is NO global cooling trend taking place, just a brief pause in an upward trend that has been fairly consistent for nearly 30 years. Profound and troubling changes are still being observed, especially over the Arctic region and Greenland.
Climate scientists don’t pretend to have all the answers – that’s the problem with science: it always generates more questions. But that doesn’t mean we should ignore a large and growing body of science that all points in the same direction. The fact that thousands of PhD’s from around the world all agree (on anything) is a pretty big deal. Much of the lingering doubt can be traced to lobbyists, think tanks and “institutes” with deep pockets and a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.
Misinformation, disinformation, obfuscation – whatever it takes to keep a seed of doubt alive in the minds of the American public.”The science isn’t settled – party on dude!” Psychologists tell us that, when confronted with something that is too big, too scary, especially something over which we all seem to be powerless, most people simply shut down, they choose to turn away, they simply can’t or won’t confront it. Global warming has become this generation’s ultimate boogeyman; a punchline for jokes, the ultimate conundrum.
My fear: it will probably take a string of weather and climate catastrophes, a few more “Katrinas”, a handful of epic floods, deadly heat waves or crippling droughts, before we focus on the issue, and give it the time and attention it truly deserves. All too often we tend to be reactionary, knee-jerk reactions and calls for instant-solutions. But in the case of climate there are no quick, painless fixes. It requires a global solution, a level of cooperation and coordination among nations that we’ve never seen. Can we wait? Let’s hold off for a few more years (or decades) until there is absolutely no question what’s going on – no dissent, 100% agreement. What’s wrong with this “solution”? By the time the last piece ofthe climate puzzle snaps into place it will be too late to do anything about it. The die will be cast, or fate sealed. We will have no choice but to adapt to this brave new, warmer, stormier, drier world. America will adapt, I have no doubt in my mind. The problem (and here is where it becomes a moral issue) is that those with the least, the poorest people living in the poorest countries will be impacted the most. Hey, the generals in the Pentagon seem to believe this is a serious national security issue: one that will result in mass dislocations, water wars, civil strife, with a direct impact on our nation, our resources, our way of life. We can deal with it now, or we can delay, and deal with an even bigger boogeyman 20 years from now, in essence dumping this into the laps of our kids and grandkids. Call me crazy but I still believe there’s something inherently disgusting, immoral and cowardly in this approach. Our kids and grandkids are not going to be very happy.
So much for polls (and the notion of two steps forward, one step back). Shifting gears back to weather, I’m happy to report that my prediction of one last gasp of Indian Summer seems to be on track. It may even come true! I can’t promise 70, but at this point I’d be happy to settle for 60 degrees in the shade, and that now seems likely by Saturday. First we’ll have to muddle through some light (rain) showers today, a cold wind on Wednesday, followed by a slow warming trend by week’s end. I still don’t see any massive storms, although the chance of rain will increase by Sunday night and Monday morning. The pattern looks stormier for both coasts, sloppy storms for the eastern seaboard and a series of powerful Pacific storms slamming into the west coast – relatively quiet weather over the nation’s midsection. No soakers, no accumulating snow, no record cold – just a brief, fleeting (well-timed) reminder of just how phenomenal a Minnesota autumn can be.
Man-made snow? A worker clears snow on the Great Wall of China, north of Beijing, Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2009. City authorities said snow which fell on Tuesday was artificially induced in an attempt to reduce the effects of a drought. (Greg Baker/AP Photo ) For more on this “state-sponsored” attempt to manufacture precipitation click here and read more from ABC News.
Paul’s Outlook for the Twin Cities
Today: Mostly cloudy, light showers/sprinkles likely by midday/afternoon. Winds: S 10-20. High: 47
Tonight: Lingering clouds, turning cooler. Low: 36
Wednesday: More clouds than sun, windy and cool. High: 45
Thursday: A mix of clouds and sun, brisk. High: 49
Friday: Increasing clouds, windy – a few sprinkles possible. High: 54
Saturday: A touch of Indian Summer. Partly sunny and mild. High: 61
Sunday: Fading sun, clouds increase by PM hours. High: 58
Monday: Period of rain, tapering off to showers. High: 48
Tuesday: Gusty and colder with lot’s of clouds. High: 45