Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Extreme Weather ...

The appalling images of the tornado that swept through the city of Joplin in Missouri yesterday speak loudly of the power of nature. I'm sure though that someone is already blaming it all on "Anthropomorphic Global Warming" and building the propaganda campaign for the "Climate Change" hysterics of Greenpeace et al. The truth is that the particular region of the US is known as "Tornado Alley" for a reason - it gets tornadoes on a regular basis annually. What does vary year on year is the number of such storms and the strength of the twisters they generate.

For some time now there have been predictions that sooner or later a big one would hit a town or city. Joplin may not be one of the major cities, but I think everyone now has a fair idea of what to expect the day one does hit Kansas City or one of the other major centres.

I think two things are at work here. The climate is certainly a part of it and it certainly is changing, but how much influence mankind has on that is what is, in my mind, very much open to debate. I am not convinced that reducing our CO2 output - and thereby reducing the world atmospheric CO2 level by something of the order of 0.0001% - will have any impact at all. The primary force at work here, according to the Climatologists whose work I am prepared to trust, is the North Atlantic Ocillation and a similar System at work over the North Pacific basin. It has all shifted slightly westward in the last couple of years and this has moved the jet streams - and they generate the weather.

One thing is certain, mankind has a lot to learn about our planet, our climate mechanisms actually operate. Reading up on the research behind what we do know (Or think we do) suggests that changes tend to take place on near geological time scales rather than in decades or even centuries. The second thing we need to take into account is the manner in which our ever increasing numbers place ever more people where they will be affected by extreme weather. A hundred years ago we didn't have anything like the numbers now living in flood plains, tornado alleys or on earthquake faults and the photographs from Japan, Thailand and New Zealand give us plenty to think about in terms of earthquakes. For me the image of a brick-built fire station torn apart, the appliance still inside but smashed to scrap says more loudly than anything else that we have no power whatsoever to divert or influence Mother Nature...

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