Recently I wrote about birds and sealife committing suicide en mass.
This week I’d like to ponder about the extreme weather conditions that are striking the world.
In Australia we have just come out of a ten year drought. And recently, right across Australia – principally Queensland, Northern New South Wales and Victoria, we were pounded by dreadful flooding.
Lives were lost, homes destroyed and animals killed. Residents in Toowoomba reported being hit by a tremendous wall of water – an inland tsunami – as they were out driving. Just imagine this – people who were not good swimmers were drowned when their cars were carried away by flood water. So even if you religiously avoided water because you were a poor swimmer, the water found you.
And because Queenslanders and really all of Australia has enthusiastically cut down every tree in sight, the rivers were running brown with our precious top soil as nothing is holding it in place anymore. http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/floods-steal-precious-topsoil–and-future-goes-down-drain-20110109-19jrq.html This dirty water (impregnated with chemicals) washed into the Pacific Ocean where it could kill large swathes of the Great Barrier Reef (see below). According to the World Wildlife Fund Australia, in the past many Australian rivers flowed clear even in times of flood, but modern agriculture, land clearing and poor river management techniques have turned floodwaters into torrents of mud.
And when societies exhaust their topsoil, they collapse or are forced to move. Need I mention that Cree Indian prophesy again?
In Southeast Brazil, in a mountainous region near Rio, many hundreds of people were killed in floods and mudslides due to extremely heavy tropical rain. http://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/at-least-109-dead-in-brazil-floods/story-e6frfku0-1225986834034
More than 30,000 army, navy, police and air force personnel battled to provide urgent aid to people hit by heavy flooding in Sri Lanka. A government spokesman said more than 325,000 people had been displaced by flooding. People have died and more than a million were affected. In the centre and east, farmland was flooded and rice fields destroyed. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-12152964
Last year there were catastrophic floods in Pakistan and northern India. And yet in Southern India in Kerala, the normal annual monsoon in June / July seemed to be very understated. Normally a very rainy time, the promised rains failed to materialize, with just a couple of rainy days. Unfortunately, the residents of Kerala count on this rainy season to fill their backyard wells in preparation for the extremely hot summer.
On 31st August, 2008, Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. This was the costliest natural disaster in the history of the United States. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Katrina
Last week in Queensland, Australia, we experienced the wrath of Cyclone Yasi which devastated a number of townships. It was apparently a force 5 cyclone which was considered the most severe cyclone in living memory.
Meanwhile, Europe and the United States have seen the worst winter weather in many years. There were atypical snowfalls in several parts of the Northern Hemisphere. According to Wikipedia a persistent weather pattern brought cold moist air from the north with systems undergoing cyclogenesis from North American storms moving across the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and saw many parts of Europe experiencing heavy snowfall and record low temperatures. This led to a number of deaths, widespread transport disruption, power failures and the postponement of a number of sporting events. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winter_of_2009%E2%80%932010_in_Europe
So why is this happening? Is it Global Warming? Is it climate change?
The subject of global warming is very controversial and people point to the recent extreme cold conditions in Europe and America as proof that there is no global warming – only climate change.
According to http://www.nwf.org/Global-Warming/What-is-Global-Warming/Global-Warming-is-Causing-Extreme-Weather.aspx global warming is making hot days hotter, rainfall and flooding heavier, hurricanes stronger and droughts more severe.
Global warming theorists say that intensification of weather and climate extremes will be the most visible impact of global warming in our everyday lives. Powerful thunderstorms, hurricanes, and tornadoes are naturally created when warm air rises and collides with extremely cold air high in the atmosphere. The hotter the air, the faster it rises, and the stronger its clash with the cold air. So, the storms that are created are much more fierce.
The overwhelming majority of scientists agree that our globe is undergoing major climate change. They also agree that the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is rising significantly.
I’ll keep you posted on that one as right now in the Amazon Basin an extremely serious situation is brewing. Due to a record drought, billions of trees have died in the Amazon Rainforest and scientists fear that instead of being a carbon sink (the Amazon soaks up one quarter of the world’s atmospheric carbon), it will become a carbon source – releasing its stored carbon and increasing world temperatures even more. This is now becoming reality and yet I saw a documentary made by two scientists at least ten years ago, which warned that exactly this senario was likely to occur.
According to www.global-greenhouse-warming.com Satellite images and research show that the ice caps are melting faster, our sea levels are rising, and weather patterns are changing. We are experiencing more water shortages. The deserts are expected to expand and the world will ultimately have difficulty growing enough food.
In an extremely interesting website http://www.scienceclarified.com/scitech/Global-Warming/Signs-of-a-Warming-Planet.html there is a discussion about the effects of warming on the environment and sea and animal life right across the globe.
Just this week I read that polar bears are disappearing from the north and one polar bear was recorded as having had to swim for nine days across the deep, frigid Beaufort Sea before reaching an ice floe 685 kilometres offshore in an effort to find a hunting ground. The swim came at a cost. The bear’s cub died and the bear lost 22% of her body weight. This is apparently the longest recorded journey for a polar bear but such trips will become necessary in the future as their hunting grounds diminish. http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/polar-bear-swam-nonstop-for-nine-days-20110204-1aguu.html
Apparently the rivers in Australia aren’t dredged anymore which has significantly contributed to the risk of flooding.
My view of the flooding is that it would not have been so severe if developers hadn’t chopped down every possible tree and put concrete and a house in their place. Hence, there is no bare earth to absorb the rain fall. There is also nothing to hold the top soil down and that is causing the rivers to run brown with our earth. This scenario has never occurred in previous floods.
During the Queensland floods, a lady was on the radio saying that her family business is chopping down trees. They are closing the business down immediately because she was actually saved in the floods by a tree. She said that the message was not lost on her.
THE GREAT BARRIER GRIEF
The 2010 Marine Census told a dire story about the world’s reefs. Already, half the reefs in the Caribbean are dead and throughout the world, one quarter are kaput.
A couple of years ago our own reef, the Great Barrier Reef, was crunched by a Chinese cargo ship, taking a shortcut. This encounter killed a large segment of the reef.
But now it looks like the reef is really copping it. The recent devastating floods in Queensland have washed off tonnes of topsoil (see the article above) and this has headed out to the Great Barrier Reef, making the sea cloudy so that sunlight can’t penetrate down to the coral. Sunlight is vital for coral growth.
Worse still, the soil is impregnated with a cocktail of chemicals washed from farms and gardens.
Of course the chemicals will kill the fish, but if not, once the coral dies, the ecosystem the reef supports, including tropical fish, will die with it.
Up to 90% of coral in badly affected areas could die. The hardest-hit reefs include those off Queensland’s Burdekin and Fitzroy rivers, and the tourist haven of Great Keppel Island.