Before getting into the weather and climate news of the day, I just wanted to make sure everyone knows that Tony blogged about the November numbers yesterday. As Tony mentioned, the most interesting fact about the month is that the warmest temperature occurred on the 1st of the month and the coldest temperature occurred on the last day of the month. Even though statistically (following a normal distribution of temp changes) this should happen every November (actually all Fall months and vice versa for Spring months), this is the first time I can remember it happening.
Now a brief follow-up on the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Despite the “all is fine and under control” attitude presented by many media outlets and government agencies, there is still a chance Fukushima could cause major problems in Japan and around the world. At least one scientist who has monitored the situation closely, thinks there is still a chance of a major “China-syndrome” explosion.
Snow-lovers – there is reason to be optimistic. Not only did we have a small accumulation this morning, more is possibly on the way for Saturday and Saturday night. Right now it looks like a chance of 3 to 6 inches of accumulation. If the storm tracks favorably, and if there is some banding and/or convective elements within the snowfall, then there could be well over 6 inches. It is all very preliminary at this point. Rob Duns and I will continue to refine the forecast as we head toward the weekend. Any snow that falls this weekend should stick around because high temps will only be in the 20s much of next week.
If we do end up with significant snowfall, it will probably put more of a dent in the abnormally dry conditions persisting in the northeast corner of the state. The latest US Drought Monitor does not show much change in the state of Wisconsin since last week. But some good news in another part of the country is that drought conditions in Texas continue to slowly improve. I talked to a friend from Texas over the weekend and he said that all the rain has been falling in the northern half of the state but it has not moved as far south as Corpus Christie. He says the lake he lives on near Corpus Christie is still very low.
I was just blogging about simple ways to sequester carbon dioxide the other day and lo-n-behold, Newscientist brings up the subject again. In an article where they claim that a warming world is the greatest challenge new generations face, they mention the possibility of growing forests and using better future technology to remove carbon dioxide. This again refutes the idea that all changes we make to the earth or atmosphere (theoretical as they may be) are “irreversible” – a term used by many ecologists and climatologists. Read the aricle here (might require you to register).
Besides the article bemoaning the the recent increase in carbon dioxide emissions (mostly due to China), it also tries to make the case that anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is this generation’s greatest challenge. I disagree. Even if the some of the worst case scenarios come to pass, AGW is not an existential threat to life on earth. I am much more worried about exponential technological progress – a concern shared by people as varied as Bill Joy and The Unabomber. As technology becomes more powerful, it has the capability to destroy more than in the past. Some have envisioned technologies that could appear within a few years capable of destroying most life on earth – whether by accident or design. Even if our technology does not destroy us, it will fundamentally change who we are, how society is organized, and how the economy will operate. I am greatly in favor of continued progress, but we must also be determined to evaluate the destructive potential of new technologies. I am glad organizations like LifeBoat and SIAI are on the job and looking out for humanity.
What might happen if progress stops (unlikely), the population increases indefinitely (unlikely), we keep using more fossil fuels all the way through 2100 (very unlikely), and the atmosphere warms a few degrees, is not all that high on my threat meter.
It is pretty high on the threat meter of many politicians and environmentalists and thus the latest “Climate Talks” have convened in Durban South Africa. Another round has been planned for next year in Qatar. Perhaps if it was such a big threat, the meeting attendees should be using email and video-conferencing instead of flying off to distant locales. I sometimes wonder about the choice of conference places. In particular, for AGW discussions, it is interesting to note that they are meeting this year in a country with quite large coal production. Next year they will be meeting in a country with the largest per capita energy consumption in the world (Qatar). Maybe they have chosen these spots in order to shame the host countries into living more sustainably. Maybe.
Which brings up another interesting fact. You wouldn’t know it by the media coverage but the U.S. does NOT have the highest per capita energy consumption in the world NOR is it the world’s largest polluter. Keep up the good work everyone!
One of the main discussions at the AGW meeting in Durban will be the creation of a $100 billion dollar a year (yes, every year) fund to help developing countries combat the effects of AGW. On the list of developing countries is one of the richest in the world – you guessed it – Qatar. I wonder if China is still on the list of “developing” countries and not subject to any future climate treaties, which would be very ironic since they are the world’s biggest polluter.
Have a nice Thursday! Meteorologist Justin Loew