Global warming gets local and cloudy in Seattle

seattle.jpgI’ve noticed that a lot of global warming stories, and books use abstraction and remote examples to illustrate their point. Elizabeth Kolbert’s excellent and readable Field Notes from a Catastrophe calls up the Arctic, the Antarctic, Polar Bears and rising sea levels. The publicity for Al Gore’s (Gore/Obama 2008!) Inconvenient Truth which I have not seen, talks about the Snows of Kilimanjaro extensively.

This kind of imagery is useful, but in the end, Leigh Person in Gary, IN (my favorite name and average city, resp.) will not be moved by shrinking Arctic ice. How will global climate change affect Leigh’s commute? Will Leigh’s vacation home on the beach be below water in 30 years? Will Leigh’s house be invaded by cockroaches? What will happen to Leigh’s 401K? What about Leigh’s kids?

It is difficult enough, given the false balance on climate change reporting, to make long term predictions that will not be “disputed” by “sceptics”, so to make local predictions that are more uncertain is difficult, which is why reporting like the example below must be lauded.

Climate change is a difficult problem, because the countries responsible for the bulk of past, present and future emissions are not the ones that will face the most serious consequences. I want to go into this in greater depth as I read and learn more, but any change in the availability of fresh water in, say, India will result in utter chaos, decelerated growth and death. But the countries most significantly affected (the tropics) are helpless to deal with climate change….

Hopefully, local focused stories will spur people to action.

The Seattle Times: Local News: An even grayer Seattle from global warming?

For those harboring the guilty hope that global warming will transform Seattle into a sun lovers’ paradise on par with the Côte d’Azur, meteorologist Cliff Mass has some bad news: It might actually get cloudier.

Mass and his colleagues at the University of Washington recently completed the most detailed computer simulation ever conducted of the region’s future weather. Among the surprises was a big boost in cloud cover in March, April and May.

“The spring is going to be gunkier — if you believe this — under global warming,” he said.

The model also predicts that the number of summer days when temperatures soar into the 90s will more than triple before the end of the century, if greenhouse-gas emissions from cars and industry continue unabated.

And the hopes of some water managers appear to be dashed by the finding that catastrophic losses of winter snowpack will not be offset by more summer thunderstorms.

1 comment for “Global warming gets local and cloudy in Seattle

  1. Soumya
    June 7, 2006 at 10:31 am

    I think thats an important point you make, that the countries responsible for most of the causes of global warming, are the ones that will be least affected by its consequences in the near future. No wonder they can afford to be complacent.