Sunday, December 19, 2010

Earthquakes and other Natural Disasters

A PhD friend of mine explained to me the connection between Climate Change and Earthquakes.

To greatly simplify it - imagine a very large balloon partly filled with water. Coat the balloon with layers of mud and peagravel and let it dry.

Now heat the whole thing up. When the balloon expands, even a tiny bit, mud cracks and shifts.

I heard this about 3 years ago. It's something the scientific community isn't talking about publicly yet. But it made sense to me.

Now, 2010 has been a doozy. Maybe if you were living in an untouched area of the U.S. you hardly noticed. God knows it seems major media has really tried hard to keep this stuff off the news.

In the midst of the world-record breaking heat wave and wildfires in Russia and flooding in Pakistan (that ruined 1/4 of the worlds wheat crops and killed 20,000 people) and the heat waves in Greece and most of Europe that killed 10's of thousands, most Americans I talked to had no clue that these things were happening, or thought they were much smaller, more localized problems.

All of them were shocked when I sent them the Russian News or Pakistan News. 

"Oh my God! I had no idea!."

was the usual response. That tells me there is a deliberate avoidance of these sorts of stories by the big news. Anything weather related that might cause people to actually think "Um.. ok something is really screwy here.." is off the table apparently.

Well, here - I'll fill you in. Below are clips from 2010 A Wild Year for Weather

Earthquakes, heat waves, floods, volcanoes, super typhoons, blizzards, landslides and droughts killed at least a quarter million people in 2010 - the deadliest year in more than a generation. More people were killed worldwide by natural disasters this year than have been killed in terrorism attacks in the past 40 years combined.

"It just seemed like it was back-to-back and it came in waves," said Craig Fugate, who heads the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency. It handled a record number of disasters in 2010."The term '100-year event' really lost its meaning this year."

In the summer, one weather system caused oppressive heat in Russia, while farther south it caused flooding in Pakistan that inundated 62,000 square miles, about the size of Wisconsin. That single heat-and-storm system killed almost 17,000 people, more people than all the worldwide airplane crashes in the past 15 years combined.

The excessive amount of extreme weather that dominated 2010 is a classic sign of man-made global warming that climate scientists have long warned about. They calculate that the killer Russian heat wave - setting a national record of 111 degrees - would happen once every 100,000 years without global warming.

Preliminary data show that 18 countries broke their records for the hottest day ever.
"These (weather) events would not have happened without global warming," said Kevin Trenberth, chief of climate analysis for the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.

The year may go down as the hottest on record worldwide or at the very least in the top three, according to the World Meteorological Organization. The average global temperature through the end of October was 58.53 degrees, beating the previous record of 2005, according to the National Climatic Data Center.

Even the extremes were extreme.

In the United States, FEMA declared a record number of major disasters, 79 as of Dec. 14. The average year has 34.

Blizzards are included in the Climate Change tally because with a warmer climate, there's more moisture in the air, which of course makes all storms, including blizzards, more intense.

A list of day-by-day disasters in 2010 compiled by the AP runs 64 printed pages long.

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