Charles Hanley describes the natural weather and environmental extremes this summer without using the common scapegoat: climate change.
Russia. It’s been the hottest summer on record in Russia, with Moscow temperatures topping 100 degrees Fahrenheit for the first time. Russia’s drought has sparked hundreds of wildfires in forests and dried peat bogs, blanketing Moscow with a toxic smog that finally lifted Thursday after six days. Deaths in the capital doubled to 700 people a day at one point; the drought reduced the wheat harvest by over one-third.
The 2007 IPCC report predicted a doubling of disastrous droughts in Russia this century and cited studies foreseeing catastrophic fires indry years. It said Russia faced large crop losses.
Pakistan. The heaviest monsoon rains on record – 12 inches in one 36-hour period – have sent rivers rampaging over huge swaths of countryside, flooding thousands of villages. It has left 14 million people homeless or otherwise affected, and killed 1,500.
A warmer atmosphere can hold – and discharge – more water. The 2007 IPCC report said rains have grown heavier for 40 years over north Pakistan and predicted more flooding this century in south Asia’s monsoon region.
China. Floods and landslides in the northwest province of Gansu last weekend killed at least 1,100 people; another 600 are missing.
The IPCC reported in 2007 that rains had increased in northwest China by up to 33 percent since 1961, and floods nationwide had increased sevenfold since the 1950s. It predicted still more frequent flooding this century.
United States. In Iowa, soaked by its wettest 36-month period in 127 years of recordkeeping, floodwaters from three nights of rain this week forced hundreds from their homes and killed a 16-year-old girl.
The international climate panel projected increased U.S. precipitation this century – except for the Southwest – and more extreme rain events causing flooding.
I think I remember learning in school that Canada and Russia were predicted to become farm-able lands and the American Mid West would turn into a desert. I don’t know if that is going to exactly happen because of these happenings but I appreciate the article not strictly pointing to climate change. This is one the first media reports I have ever read that admits many factors play into our climate.