Hot enough for you?

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Here in southern Ontario, we've been having quite the heat wave. While it's a bit more reasonable today, I don't think it's over just yet. And obviously southern Ontario isn't the only jurisdiction suffering. From the Washington Post (via Chris Mooney at DeSmogBlog):

Nationally, 1,966 daily high maximum temperature records have been broken or tied so far this month (through July 23). Sixty-six of those records were all-time maximum temperature records.More impressive, however, are the figures for highest minimum temperature records. Because of the extremely high humidity levels during this heat wave, a whopping 4,376 record highest minimum temperature records were broken or tied through July 23. Of those minimum temperature records, 158 were all-time records.

As Mooney points out, this kind of extreme weather event is one of the easier phenomena to link to the climate change caused by GHG emissions. This is exactly what the studies suggest we can expect. And I wonder if anyone has ever done a study on the economic effect of long stretches of extreme heat and humidity. Does it have a serious effect on productivity? What are the costs associated with health related issues? How about the extra use of energy to power air conditioners to a greater extent than in the past?

If we're to expect these kinds of weather events to continue and even to increase in intensity then surely a government like ours, with its laser-like focus on the economy, is studying the matter, providing funding to do research and preparing to craft policy in response to evidence...

Never mind. For a moment there I forgot who I was talking about. The heat must have addled my brain.

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2 Comments

Not fair Pogge. This government wants to build naval bases in the North. Obviously, they are paving the way for the mass movement of the population to Baffin Island.

Of course it must be studied. That's the essential first step in designing adaptation measures. And that's why it's not being studied. The foundation of research and analysis would highlight the fact of global warming and the real cost of its impacts. A devoted Petro-State, as Canada has become,has much to lose from public awareness.

It's Global Weirding, POGGE. Here on the Left Coast we used to have a similar, albeit greatly moderated weather pattern to that of the rest of the country. We got cold when you got colder. We got warm when you got warmer. Yet now the disparities are becoming enormous. We get dry, mild winter weather while central eastern North America are hit by severe winter storms. This year our spring and early summer were unduly chilly and damp while most of the continent endured drought and massive heatwaves.

One cause of all of this is a reversal of Arctic atmospheric patterns due to, you guessed it, ice loss. Normally the Arctic has a winter-long low pressure zone. That has now become a winter high pressure zone. The change in pressure has reversed Arctic wind currents so that warm, moist air is drawn up out of the Pacific, chilled and then driven down across eastern North America and western Europe in severe snowstorms.

As for studying these impacts, eventually Washington's hand will be forced. The southern and central US cannot survive the ravages of sustained drought and severe floods and remain intact. The US eastern seaboard is also highly vulnerable to sea level rise coupled with severe storm events of increasing severity and frequency. Even as American legislatures recoil at the suggestion of public health insurance they're quietly enacting state flood insurance programmes as private insurers back out. Call it socialized home ownership.

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This page contains a single entry by pogge published on July 26, 2011 9:02 AM.

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