For Newton, his thing was gravity. Oh, and Einstein, relativity. Well, Murphy, he has a law too and it goes something like this: “Whatever can go wrong, will.” Back to this in a moment.
But first. If you’re interested in/concerned about air quality matters, then you’ve probably also been closely following anything and everything global warming/climate disruption related.
So, according to Columbia University Climate Scientist Radley Horton and a contributing author to the National Climate Assessment (a painstaking report on climate released once every four years) on Friday, Nov. 3, 2017 in an on-the-air interview with PBS [Public Broadcasting System] Newshour anchor Hari Sreenivasan, over the last century, Earth has experienced a temperature rise of roughly one degree Fahrenheit.
We’ve seen the destruction in places like Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico caused by devastating hurricanes and ensuing floods. In fact, in a report on Sunday, Nov. 5th, on CBS’s [Columbia Broadcasting System] 60 Minutes, much of the island nation (its closest point, incidentally, located about 1,000 miles from the U.S. mainland), is still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Maria and has been without power some 46 days after the storm struck on Sept. 20th. Whereas most hurricanes impacting the territory skirt the island’s coasts, according to what I heard during this report, this latest event tore right through Puerto Rico’s center.
As for Hurricane Harvey, it dumped upwards of 50 inches of rain on parts of Texas. I’m still trying to get my head around how much rain that is. To release that much precipitation, it’s mind-boggling just thinking about how much water a cubic foot of atmosphere would have to contain and how many cubic feet of water in the atmosphere there would have to be to produce the kind of cumulative total rainfall that fell on the Texas Gulf Coast region (that is, in and around Houston). As far as I’m aware, these kinds of aggregate totals have not been seen since what happened in the Sacramento, California region in 1861-’62 – which it has been brought to bear was under 10 feet of water and which took at least six-month’s time before the water drained and the area started drying out – and dumped all in a matter of just days!
I wrote about such a catastrophe in “Modern-day ‘megafloods’: Is there an air pollution-atmospheric connection?” here.
In fact, in that post, I wrote: “Since it has been about 150 years since the 1861-‘62 megaflood occurred, one has to wonder when the next ‘big one’ will happen.”
With the addition of major weather events occurring in both 2009 and 2010, I also submitted: “I can’t help but wonder if we’ll be seeing more of these kinds of events or if air pollution is prompting temperature rise and if such rise could be a contributing factor.”
And who can forget the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy in 2012?!
No question we’ve seen a, if not, the “big one.”
What I do know is that with a rising global mean temperature, there is an increased tendency for increased water evaporation to occur that is, compared to what would be considered normal.
Hurricanes, monsoons and the like aren’t the only so-called “side effects” we’ve been seeing as of late tied to world warming.
Consider also the five-year drought the U.S. west suffered through, its official end so-declared barely two years ago.
Horton in the Newshour interview, meanwhile, added in this century so far, there have been double the number of extreme high-temperature events as there were low-temperature ones. And, it’s not that they’ve just been extreme: the events are record-breaking, Horton added. The climate scientist points out also there are coast-based communities witnessing a five-fold increase in coastal flooding frequency compared to what was encountered just two generations back.
So, in getting back to the earlier comment that “whatever can go wrong, will,” is Murphy’s law playing out in the sense that what we are seeing extreme weather-related-wise in this day and age, all on account of global temperature rise? And, if this Murphyism as applied to this particular situation turns out to be spot on, “then what?!” would be my next question.
That said, as a world community in erring on the side of caution it would seem there is everything to gain and nothing to lose, that is, save for a degree and quite possibly more; a reference to temperature, obviously. Sure makes sense to me!
Image above: NASA
– Alan Kandel