Unprecedented–In Time Frames that Matter:

By September 4, 2011 February 2nd, 2013 Drought

Whenever we have an extreme weather event, whether it be unprecedented in the historic record or not, the climate unchangers come out of the woodwork. They are at the ready with their cries of, “It’s not unprecedented!” All the while, they appear to not be listening to what the scientists have to say. They are only concerned with the world knowing that the weather event in question is only a rerun of past weather events of similar proportions, be it in the historic or the prehistoric record.

The scientists, all the while, have known that these weather events have happened before–it is not important to the crisis at hand. It matters not if we had a super drought that was worse than our current drought in the 1300s, or the 1550s, or the 900s–really, it does not matter to our society today. There are 10 or 20 times more, or maybe even 100 times more people on the planet today then there were back then.  We had a drought in the late 1800s that was worse than Dust Bowl by quite a bit, but do the climate scientists give a Hula-hoop? No they do not. At least, they realize that the past is irrelevant. Today we are burning our fossil fuels one million times faster than nature saved them for us. The implications for our society are much, much larger than the drought of the 1890s or the 1300s, or the 900s. Today we literally doing, in 100 years, what nature takes a million years to do.  We are burning our fossil fuels one million times faster than nature saved them for us.

There were less than 1 billion people on Earth in 1880. Today there are nearly 7 billion. This is not the same planet. This drought that we are having in Texas today is totally extreme. Austin just experienced 32,000 acres of wildfires in two days that burned over 1600 homes to the ground. We had eighty, 100 degree days this year smashing the old record of 69 and we are just getting going with climate changes.

There is an even more important issue that needs to be considered with these new climate change impacts that are “surprising” us. It doesn’t matter if there was a similar drought in the 1800s, our society of 7 billion people did not evolve then. Central Texas has never experienced these types of fires, this type of heat or this extreme of drought–in time frames that matter. When I say time frames that matter, I mean since we have become a mostly urban society. Our food is all grown on mega mechanical farms. 21,000 dozen eggs fit into one 18-wheeler. A hundred 18-wheelers leave a typical egg factory every day. Things were different when we each grew our own eggs, captured our own water and stored it in our own hand-built underground cisterns.

If the radical skeptics would only listen a minute–I think this is one of their main problem. They have preconceived notions that they are certain are correct. And they are – the drought in the lat 1800s was worse than the Dust Bowl–but it does not matter today.

Take this drought again: They bring up their “sit down and shut up” point about another drought of this strength happening in the 1880s. The climate scientists responds, yes you are correct, and in the 1500s there was a drought twice this extreme. It happened again in the 1300s and 900s. Twice as bad! But wait, there’s more: two or three times (I can’t remember) since the end of the last ice age, we have had megadroughts that saw only 10 to 15 percent of what we call “normal” rainfall, and this went on for 200 to 300 years.

No, I am not finished yet. All of this stuff above happened in the last 10,000 years–what we call an interglacial warm period. These interglacial warm periods are very stable warm periods, lasting usually only a couple of thousand years, each between 100,000 year long ice ages. These droughts and super droughts all happened during the interglacial warm periods.  Droughts during the ice ages put super droughts and mega droughts completely to shame. 

There was so much dust on the planet during the ice ages that this is the main way that annual ice layers are identified in polar ice cores. This dust blew all the way from the deserts of Siberia to the Greenland ice sheet where we use it to identify time spans. But who cares?

Climate change is about the normal weather that we have had for about two hundred years, where we have learned to make enough food, harvest enough fish, chop down enough trees to manage our society. A few degrees of change will mess all of this. The droughts and fires and tree kills that we are experiencing because of this series of droughts that we are experiencing in Texas is far beyond anything that we our society has experienced.  Certainly, we have seen Texas transform itself from a forest to a desert. Our great oak forests were once border to border pine forests. Shifting sands once covered vast areas of the state.

In the last two hundred years though?  Nothing of the sort.  We have had a few droughts that were worse, or as bad as the Dust Bowl, but they happened when we had a global population of less than a million and we all grew our own eggs. What the radical propaganda believers can not hear is that it simply doesn’t matter how similar that historical or prehistoric weather event was.  What we are seeing today is only a prelude.

We have seen our CO2 concentration increase. We know that this causes warming. We have experienced some of this warming and we think we know where the rest is hiding because we still do not understands clouds and some feedback mechanisms very well. We know that the warming could not possibly be all caused by the sun or solar cycles. The sun cycles too quickly to be responsible for more than a teeny bit of warming and solar cycles cycle far too slowly to have an influence.  We know that cosmic rays, even though we still don’t know enough about clouds, have little effect on climate.

We know that we are doing relatively nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and that because of this we can expect to see an additional 5 degrees of warming (about)–if we stopped emitting all greenhouse gases tomorrow. And we know that we are seeing some really big ecosystem changes already with only 1.4 degrees of average global change.

What the scientists see then, is that the relatively unprecedented nature of these extreme weather events that we are experiencing today will not be very big news in a decade or two.  Instead of Texas breaking the all time 12 month minimum rainfall record (11.4 inches), and then things returning to normal (33 inches), we will simply not return to normal.

In the last five years, our drinking water supply, the Highland Lakes, has gone from being overfull to breaking a 60 year record for dryness–not once, but twice. This has happened because we are seeing a longer warm period because of warming. Evaporation has a nearly exponential function, which means that as it gets warmer, evaporation increase a lot, lot more for every little bit of warming.  Drought can actually be perpetuated with normal rainfall if the warm season increases in length.

These climate change weather events are NOT unprecedented in time; They have happened in the past. the problem is–the future has not happened in the past. Seven billion people without water to send 15,000 dozen eggs pre 18- wheeler to market every day 100 times per egg farm .. what are we going to do with the water to raise those chickens?