Rapid Climate Change
Actually the deep snow above at Mammoth Mountain is nothing compared to the snow at one Vancouver Island ski resort, which was practically completely snowed-in. Mount Washington has been pummeled with three meters of fresh snow over a recent three-day period, burying lodges, cars, and even ski lifts.
“If you thought it was especially cold in December, it’s not just your imagination. The facts prove it, according to the National Weather Service, which announced Saturday that December 2010 set a record as the coldest December ever in Ft. Lauderdale. Miami, and Key West,” writes CBS News. It is also confirmed now that that Dec 2010 in Britain and probably West Europe, was indeed the coldest for at least a 100 years.
Floridians endured bone-chilling blasts in the 30s, from Fort Lauderdale to Jacksonville. Miami is experiencing its coldest December in 115 years, according to the local branch of the National Weather Service. This time of year, the temperature in Miami usually reaches 77°. Last Monday, the mercury stopped 20° below that, at 57.
There is a lot at risk with dramatic weather and climate change that will be hammered in like a silver stake into the heart of humanity as food prices head north at a quickening pace. Millions of people are starting to fear that food is going to be priced out of their reach as prices rise in the face of increasing shortages and scarcity. Everywhere we turn we see dramatic climate events taking their toll on crops.
Almost everyone today seems to believe in climate change though few really appreciate where these changes are taking us. No matter what one believes, the consensus is all dramatic climate events—floods, drought, snow, ice, cold, and heat—each have their agricultural consequences with none of them being good.
AP – A wallaby stands on a large round bail of hay trapped
by rising floodwaters outside the town of Dalby.
For example, more than 200,000 people have been affected by relentless flooding in northeast Australia, with the flood zone now stretching over an area bigger than France and Germany combined, officials said last week. Thousands of homes and businesses across Queensland state have been inundated with water after days of pounding rain caused swollen rivers to overflow. The entire population of two towns was forced to evacuate as water swamped their communities, cutting off roads and devastating crops.
“This is without a doubt a tragedy on an unprecedented scale,” Bligh told Australian Broadcasting Corp. “We now have 22 towns or cities that are either substantially flooded or isolated because the roads have been cut off to them. The flooding may cost billions of dollars after crops were destroyed and output from coal mines was disrupted.” Towns are facing the prospect of food shortages, power outages, and sewage-contaminated floodwaters. “In many ways, it is a disaster of biblical proportions,” Queensland State Treasurer Andrew Fraser told reporters in flood-hit Bundaberg.
Cold, Snow and Food Inflation
“As we emerge, temporarily perhaps, from weeks of the coldest weather since records began – with snow disasters right round the northern hemisphere, from the US and Europe to China and Mongolia – more examples come to light of how the cost of extreme cold is far greater than that of warming,” writes Christopher Booker for The Telegraph.
Britain’s winter is the coldest since 1683 and close to being the chilliest in nearly 1,000 years. Latest figures reveal that the average temperature since December 1 has been a perishing –1°C. That makes it the second coldest since records began in 1659. The chilliest on record was 1683-1684, when the average was –1.17°C and the River Thames froze over for two months. But with January and February to come, experts believe Britain could suffer the most freezing cold winter in the last 1,000 years. How come we have not seen this in the mainstream press?
The cold is biting directly into the agricultural sector as do the floods, drought and heat when it gets concentrated as it did in Russia and the Ukraine last summer. In Florida though freezes earlier in December caused at least $115 million in damage. The Florida Department of Agriculture has compiled crop damage estimates from cold weather through December 20. The report shows the cucumber crop was wiped out. Florida and Mexico usually supply this crop in the winter, but Florida has not shipped anything for more than a week. Eggplant, snap beans, and peppers were nearly wiped out. Cabbage, sweet corn, and squash all suffered heavy losses. Tomatoes also took heavy damage. The state agriculture department estimates Florida has suffered a total economic loss of about $275 million when you consider indirect losses.
Chief executive of the Auckland City Mission, Diane Robertson, says it’s a double-whammy for the mission he runs; more people will be unable to afford to eat, while those who donate food cut back on their generosity. Kishore T. Pagarani, the group director of the Choithrams supermarket chain, told Arabian Business that, “Global food inflation is currently about fifteen percent per year and is expected to rise in 2011. It’s very difficult to predict how climate change will continue to create volatility in agro-commodity markets. The value of staple foods, such as wheat, corn, and soya, is likely to remain high, since both the USA and Russia aren’t expecting good wheat crops.”
In Korea hostile weather conditions are being blamed for the surge in the food prices. Cabbage, for example, rose by 80 percent, garlic by 52 percent, and radishes by 98 percent. In India, wholesale food inflation for the week ending December 18 touched a 10-month high of 14.44 percent as vegetables prices, particularly onions, soared. Wholesale food inflation, as measured by the Wholesale Price Index (WPI), had re-entered double digits at 12.13 percent in the week ending December 11; it had stood at a 20-year high of 21.29 percent during the corresponding period in 2009.
The price of traded food staples such as wheat, corn, and rice soared 26 percent from June to November, nearing the peaks reached during the global food crisis of 2008, according to the Food Price Index kept by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization. The price surge has continued in December, with foodstuffs and basic commodities hitting new highs and expected to climb further in 2011.
“High food prices are a concern, both for poorer people in the US, and for the huge number of poor people around the world. If food prices go up, many will not be able to pay for sufficient food for a well-balanced diet (assuming they could in the past). And of course, as food prices go up, people will cut back on spending on more discretionary items, since they have to eat,” writes Gail Tverberg.
The rising price of food cost Ken Little the steak-and-egg breakfast he once loved. These days, he orders eggs and potatoes instead at New Beginnings restaurant — hold the coffee. He gave that up, too, partly because the price went up, he said. “I watch what I eat because of the price of it,” said Little, a laid-off machinist. “I don’t look at what I want to eat. I look at the price.”
And the story just continues—and probably will all winter long. Heavy snow has been falling in China’s northwest Xinjiang province since December 20 and has accumulated to over one meter in some parts. The eastern province of Shandong has also been affected. Temperatures have dropped to –25°C in some areas. The cold spell has caused concern that China might see a repeat of the extreme weather of early 2008 that killed 129 people, left millions stranded, and brought the country to a standstill during the Lunar New Year celebrations.
Frustration and fears of disease mounted in Northern Ireland last week as 36,000 people were left without water, some for more than a week, after a deep freeze and a sudden thaw caused aging pipes to burst. With reservoirs running low, water supplies were cut off in many towns and cities, and residents turned to emergency water tankers and bottled water for their cooking, cleaning, and drinking needs. “It’s been a nightmare,” said James Lawson, a resident in Lisburn, near Belfast, who has gone without water for 13 days. “You can’t wash, you can’t eat because you can’t wash your dishes. I think it’s a fiasco,” he told the BBC.
Just before New Year’s, more powerful storms banged into the west, closing hundreds of miles of roads. The storm socked the Sierra Nevada with gusts topping 100 mph and more than two feet of snow, causing flight delays in Reno, Nevada.
Christmas day was the coldest ever with mercury plummeting to MINUS 18 as UK headed towards the biggest December freeze since 1890, read the headlines on the 25th of December. The mercury plummeted to –5.9°C at Glenlivet in 1996, but that record was smashed last night when temperatures dropped to –17°C at Worcester and –18°C at Altnaharra in northern Scotland. Several parts of Sweden, including the southern region Götaland and eastern Svealand, will have experienced the coldest December in at least 110 years.
An international team of researchers headed by the University of Bonn has been investigating the bottom of Turkey’s Lake Van, which is covered by a layer of mud several hundred meters deep. For climatologists this unprepossessing slime is worth its weight in gold: summer by summer pollen has been deposited from times long past. From it they can detect right down to a specific year what climatic conditions prevailed at the time of the Neanderthals, for example. The archives of clay may go back as much as half a million years. Preliminary investigations have been a complete success: the researchers were able to prove that the climate has occasionally changed quite suddenly – sometimes within ten or twenty years.
Oh No, Not another Ice Age