Friday, October 9, 2009

Global Warming or Climate Change?

It's October 9, and I took this photo in the afternoon from my doorstep in Montana. Overnight lows for the next 2 or 3 nights are projected as in the single digits. Brrrrr!!!! Now Montana is in the north, but we "normally" don't get snow until Halloween, and the record lows for this time of year hover around 20 degrees. So, records are getting shattered all over the place around here these days.

This is the kind of event naysayers grasp upon so they can say, "See? How can you say we're having global warming? We're having record cold!"  Such folks have a basic misunderstanding about terminology. The moniker "Global Warming" is indeed meant to apply globally--the average temperatures on the planet are gradually creeping up.  This doesn't mean that the temperature on any given day in any particular place will be higher than it was in the past, far from it.

"Far from it" is a reason for using the term "Climate Change" rather than "global warming."  Our climates are changing, and part of that change is differences in how weather systems perform.  For example, as things warm up in general, not only are warm storms like hurricanes likely to become stronger, cold storms like blizzards are also likely to intensify.  As has happened this week, arctic systems may extend further south than in the past, resulting in brief record low temperatures.  The climate is becoming destabilized in ways that will continue to surprise us as the 21st century progresses.

I have lived here for 36 years, and during that time, what's "normal" has changed significantly.  The first bad year for forest fires I experienced was in 1988, then not again until 2000.  Since then, all but 2 or 3 years have experienced multiple forest fires in our area, including one that forced us to evacuate our home, pictured here as it hurried towards us.  Spring comes earlier now,  followed by a warmer, drier, longer summer, all of which increases the chance for fires to take hold and rage.  Now, the authorities tell is, we must expect our summer skies to turn gray from fire and our air to smell of smoke.  You can be sure of it, the climate is changing.



Right On Dorothy!!
I recognize that view from your house, and, of course, it looks beautiful but is a bit disconcerting, as you pointed out, since it is only October 10th!
We all need to be educated on Climate Change and how each and every one of us can do something to help curb the peril that our "home" is facing.
Thank you for the thought provoking and clearly stated observation on this and I look forward to reading more!!
:) Kris

Robin D. said...

Enjoyed reading your blog! I'll check back often to see your updates. We'll have the whole family blogging soon. Much love, Robin