Note to self: When discussing climate, forget about far-off predictions. Focus on what’s already arrived: extreme downpours and drought. Record-breaking droughts are making dry places dryer, with wildfires following right behind. Meanwhile, record-breaking rains are making the wet places wetter, causing flooding. Among the first victims: farmland & food.
Local weather is determined by regional weather patterns, but, by speeding up evaporation, global warming intensifies everything. More heat => faster evaporation => more moisture in the air => heavier precipitation. Because “what goes up must come down.” See “Drought & deluge: What goes up must come down,” and “When it rains it pours.” As NCAR’s Gerald Meehl puts it, we’re seeing weather on steroids.
In the U.S., droughts and floods damage our largest industry, agriculture. For dry and poor countries, like Somalia, warming spells famine and refugees. To wet nations, like Thailand, climate change brings deadly floods.
The Union of Concerned Scientists has produced a concise summary of these events in “Year of Extremes.“ And here’s the Executive Summary of the recent comprehensive IPCC report on extreme weather and climate change.
Metaphors help make any climate communication easier to grasp and remember. For more metaphors on the link between extreme weather and climate change, see Bites/Consequences & Risk/Extreme Weather.