Hurricane Isabel in 2003 as seen from the International Space Station. Credit NASA
I do know there are many global warming/climate change sceptics out there, however, instead of me bombarding you with loads of science and graphs, here is my pragmatic take, dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations. Over the years, I have noted Holland is getting hotter, below are my honest views on a tricky subject.In early August 2020 temperatures in many parts of Europe for the coming week at the very least, was set to exceed 40 deg C, (104F). Now, for people living in Arizona or North Africa, 40 deg C may seem like a walk in the park but in other countries, such as Belgium, Holland, Germany etc, 40 deg C is extremely uncomfortable, even dangerous. You see, our infrastructure is not built for these types of temperatures, most of us don't have airco for instance. Our homes are built to trap heat, not to reflect it.
Living in the UK, where I was born, I am used to cool, wet summers, so when I arrived here in Holland in 1995 I was pleasantly surprised by the long cool summers and wonderful sunshine.
Back then, if the mercury reached 30 deg C (86F) it was quite a rare event, even special, because it didn't happen very often. However, just ten years later the high's began pushing upwards toward 35 deg C (95F). During the two-thousand-teens the high 30s were becoming much more frequent, then in the summer of 2019, the 40 deg C (104F) ceiling was smashed when a temperature 40.5 deg C, (105 deg F) baked Holland, breaking the all-time record which, ironically was set just the day before at 39.8 deg C. (104 deg F).
In my back yard, I measured an unofficial temperature of 41.4 in the shade.
But what was unique, this time, hundreds of locations across Europe smashed all-time hot weather records, and by an impressive margin. On the 26th of July 2019 the mercury smashed records from Scandinavia to Spain with many locations beating records placed only the day before on the 25th.
Here in Holland, we are guessing this record could be broken once again this summer. . .
January and February 2022 was a normal quiet winter, here in Holland, very mild and wet, until that is—Three massive, once in a 100 year storms battered our land in the middle of February in just one week. Worse still, it was the 2nd time this had happened in just 3 years—‘Six,’ once in 100 year storms in 2 weeks stretched over 3 years?
After the storms left, February became a wonderful, mild, sun-fest month—Followed by March, April and May. We have had no rain to speak of since the February storms—But, hey, as I said earlier, Holland is not Arizona or North Africa, we should be having lots of rain this time of the year, but, we are in drought conditions, wall to wall sunshine and much warmer than average temperatures!
When I arrived in Holland one of the first things I learned was ice skating, back then winters here in Holland were usually very cold with temperatures reaching -20 deg C (-4F) sometimes occasionally. The many canals in Holland would freeze over and the entire nation took to the ice in a skating frenzy. However, as the years rolled by the cold winters stopped and by 2010 the snow and ice had all but gone, winters have become very mild, last winter, I can't remember the temperature dropping below 5 deg C (41F) which sounds great for the plants—I have a garden-full of sub-tropical plants now, but not so good for the wildlife.
Hedgehogs and many other small animals did not hibernate last winter, after yet another ‘unprecedented’ mild winter. The effects and implications of this ‘unheard of’ phenomenon are yet to be discovered, but we should be worried. Reports of frogs and toads still being out in people’s gardens during winter is weird, they should have been in deep hibernation because they are cold-blooded animals. This was absolutely unheard of until a couple of winters ago.
Disturbing patterns show the Northern Hemisphere witnessed its warmest winter ever in 2020. The U.S. UK and Ireland, Europe and Russia all reported warm or record warmth for the winter of 2019/20. Across much of the United States, a warming climate advanced the arrival of spring.
Christmas was so mild in Moscow last year they had to import thousands of tons of snow to cover the streets of the capitol.
In 2020, our summer arrived in the middle of the winter. In the first week of February temperatures here in Holland reached a balmy 20 deg C (68F). My wife and I enjoyed the weather as we sat outside in the winter sun, it was glorious and something I had never witnessed before, but curiously, a little disturbing.
Many parts of Europe enjoyed summer temps in mid-winter in February 2020. Puerto De La Cruz in Spain topping the list with a mighty, 30 deg C, (86 deg F) and Valencia hitting 29.4 deg C, (85 deg F) almost double the average temperatures for the time of the year, smashing old records.
Extreme warmth across the southern half of Europe brought exceptional temperatures across Spain, southern France, and NW Italy. Dry Foehn winds resulted in extremely high early February values with locally 26-28 °C peak afternoon temperatures. Turin andCuneo in NW Italy reached almost +27 °C – the hottest temperatures ever recorded in Piedmont region (NW Italy) during winter! Southern Switzerland stopped at +24 °C while Valencia reported +28.4 °C!
Europe 2020 recorded one of its mildest winters ever: France enjoyed its warmest winter in 100 years: Germany and Austria had their second warmest winter ever and over here at least the trend continues. Skepticism is becoming an increasingly difficult road to follow, climate change has already happened— We are increasingly becoming more vulnerable to the unstoppable forces of nature and many of our earlier, thriving metropolitan and urban areas are becoming unliveable. Australia, California, The Gulf Of Mexico springs to mind.
What is now being called the ‘perfect storm’ is rising up toward us at an incredible speed, but, that phrase may be a massive understatement, because governments and experts are incredibly under equipped to even begin to deal with what is coming.
Weather is now beginning to play its part in the great supply crash and it could bring many affluent countries to their knees.
China for instance has been knocked back onto the ropes recently. Crippled by a nationwide shortage of power, just like the rest of the world, of course, the Chinese government had to impose power cuts to its ports and factories in October 2021. But what happened just days later was something no one could fore-cast. A week of Biblical amounts of rain fell disabling major cities.185.6mm fell in some parts, compared with the 25mm national average it saw in October between 1981 and 2010. There is no known man-made infrastructure which can handle this kind of volume.
Millions of people were displaced in the Shanxi Province. Thousands of houses were destroyed and the government had to close almost 450 mines. To make matters worse, the unprecedented rainfall came just three months after floods had killed more than 300 people in Henan Province.
China's neighbour India lost power to its 135 coal-fired electricity plants, which was a devastating blow to the population, 70% of India’s electricity is generated using coal. To make matters worse, power consumption has jumped by almost 20% and global coal prices have jumped by an incredible 40%.
It’s not just wet, wind and heat, oh no, we can expect the winter weather to cause absolute chaos in the Northern Hemisphere.The winter of 2022 in Europe at least was very mild but—Can you imagine the chaos if a "Beast From The East was to form over Western Europe, or the US and Canada—Or worse, a bone-crunching Polar Vortex, and energy and gas prices going through the roof with no end in sight and millions of families having to choose between heating or eating next winter. On top of the unbearable cold and hunger a shortage of gritter drivers and skyrocketing gas prices would collapse the entire road infrastructure of the US and Europe when the snow and ice arrived. Agriculture and farming would grind to a halt, adding to the shortage of supplies in supermarkets and other retailers.
But we now have sustainable wind farms providing us with cheap electric don’t we?
Well, yes we do and they have provided us with another mystery and is helping not stopping energy prices to soar around Europe and is something called "global stilling!"
Global stilling is a recent phenomenon whereby measurable wind speeds across the world’s continental surfaces have decreased by as much as 15% since 1980. Increased dependence on wind has suddenly become a major problem in Europe as the wind farms struggle to find wind amid soaring global prices and energy bills.
According to NOAA, the United States alone saw an unprecedented 20 billion-dollar weather and climate disaster in the first nine months of 2021. Not only was September the fifth warmest September on record but large parts of the country also endured massive flooding from Hurricane Ida and Hurricane Nicholas, along with massive droughts and unstoppable wildfires. (Unliveable!)
Back in June, 2021, the UN issued a frightening “code red warning for humanity.” They claimed in their report there is “nowhere to run, nowhere to hide,” as I said earlier, climate change has actually become, "CLIMATE CHANGED!”—But, it’s still changing.
What has happened around the world recently is unprecedented, but it is the speed at which our climate is changing that continues to surprise our governments and experts, no one can comprehend what is coming.
The fiery gates of hell have opened.
In northeastern Siberia, a hundred active forest fires burned across 1.1 million hectares (2.8 million acres) of Sakha-Yakutia during thesummer months of 2021, making it the worst affected region of Russia. In recent years, Russia has recorded record-breaking high temperatures that many scientists regard as a result of climate change. The hot weather coupled with the neglect of fire safety rules has caused a growing number of fires. (Apparently, it is cheaper to let the fires burn themselves out, which can take years!)
A record heatwave fuelled devastating wildfires across much of the southern Mediterranean and eastern Europe in the summer of 2021. Hundreds of blazes broke out – many of them multiplying and exploding in size, scary, uncontrollable, unstoppable. Italy, Croatia, Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey, Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia, and Ukraine were all tackling dozens of wildfires. Scientists linked them largely to the intense heat - which they say is made more likely and more severe by global warming. (You don’t say!)
On the very day, the UN claimed Global warming is 'unequivocally' human-driven at an unprecedented rate, Southern Europe became the fifth continent in the last three years to be devastated by out-of-control record-breaking wildfires.
As we know, 2019/20 saw Australia lose 25% of its temperate forests along with a 60% summer crop loss and 3 billion animals killed or injured. It was their worst wildfire in Australia's history. 2020 saw North America's West coast succumb to the worst wildfire crisis in their history along with the Amazon rain forest in South America and Siberia—And every year, the fires become worse but, more worryingly, they begin each year earlier than the last.
California's Death Valley is known to be a hot place, I get that, but it hit 130 degrees Fahrenheit (54.4 degrees Celsius) on July the 13th, 2020—Only the fifth time in recorded history, that's only five days out of more than 40,000 on record. This year, 2021, Death Valley hit 126 on July 7 and continued that stretch of days with 125-plus temperatures for eight straight days, which would be the second-longest streak in recorded history (tying eight days in 2013).
But that was not the whole story, a punishing heatwave was already entering its second week across California and southern Nevada. Temperatures threatened the highest maximum temperature recorded on our planet: 134 degrees F, almost 57 deg C set July 10, 1913, and the summer of 2021 had barely begun.
Lake Mead the lifeline for nearly 30 million Americans and millions of acres of farmland once held trillions of tons of water and was the foundation of growth for the modern West, however, Lake Mead isnow unrecognisable after years of devastating drought due to the record high summer temperatures and years of low winter snowpacks has brought the lake to a critical low. If the drought carries on California and it probably will they will have an enormous water shortage by next year.
Computer models can't keep up!
Shell-shocked climate scientists are wondering how even super-computer, ‘worst-case scenario’ programmes failed to predict such furnace-like conditions so far north. An incredible, record-breaking heatwave hit Canada and the northwest US, even before summer had even officially arrived earlier last year. Johan Rockström, the director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, said the recent extreme weather anomalies were not represented in global computer models.
It wasn't just heat last July neither. More than 200 people died and hundreds more were reported missing in Germany, Belgium, and southern Holland after record amounts of rain burst river banks in many areas—But it was the speed of the rising water which caught most of the people unprepared. This torrential amount of rain had never been seen before in Germany—The UK was hit by a similar deluge with the government's advisory climate change committee having to tell ministers the nation was even ,worse prepared’ for extreme weather events than it was five years ago, that's because these extreme events are increasing too rapidly for governments to react. (They are out of their depth, literally!)
Many other parts of the northern hemisphere suffered record-breaking heatwaves and fires, too many to list here. But it should serve as a reminder as to the danger many of us are in without fully understanding the severity of the circumstances. Lack of understanding is exactly the reason why so many people died in Western Europe, Canada, and the United States last summer.
In late July, 2021, Zhengzhou, in China saw an incredible ‘624 mm of rainfall’ on Tuesday the 20th, with a ‘third’ of that amount falling between 16:00 and 17:00 alone. This deluge unsurprisingly "smashed historical records”. It was apparently the highest amount of rainfall to hit China in ‘1,000 years.’ Of course many factors contribute to flooding, but a warming atmosphere caused by climate change makes extreme rainfall more likely. Henan province, home to about 100 million people, was issued its highest level of weatherwarning. Local authorities called the floods a "once in 100 years" event. Even so, millions of people were caught out. Along China's Southern coast, Tropical Storm Cempaka dumped tropical amounts of rainfall as the storm moved inland. To make matters worse for China, Typhoon "In-Fa" equivalent to a category 2 hurricane was slowly rolling toward the country's eastern coast delivering even more tropical downpours for the beleaguered nation. To make matters worse the two typhoons hung around, something we have witnessed a lot recently with typhoons, tropical storms and hurricanes. It is something of a new phenomenon.
Extreme weather continues to wreak havoc across the planet with farmers, agriculture, wildlife, and humans all taking a massive hit on the chin from the unusual extreme weather. Unusual and unseasonal cold, record-breaking heat and droughts, wildfires, and killer floods are creating absolute havoc recently as climate change becomes, "CLIMATE CHANGED!"
It's not just warmth and wet as we have mentioned. Last year, unusual freezing temperatures and frost harmed and damaged trees which will affect this year's coffee crops in many parts of Brazil. The country suffered all last year with drought and flooding and the cold snap is a final slap in the face for coffee producers.
Meanwhile, in the East of the country, it hasn't rained for over a year. Worse still, around 2,300 animals and 8,000 endemic plants are at high risk of extinction due to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. 35% of the Amazon rainforest has already been deforested or degraded. The Amazon rainforest is the lungs of our world.
According to a report by the Science Panel for the Amazon, some of the animals that live in the Amazon Rainforest include jaguars, anteaters, sloths, river dolphins, macaws, anacondas, glass frogs, iguanas, harpy eagles, poison dart frogs, and thousands of other animals, including birds, reptiles, and fish species, and are all in danger. Cutting deforestation and forest degradation to zero in less than a decade “is critical,” the report said. 18% of the Amazon rainforest has already been deforested, according to the report – primarily for agriculture and illegal timber. Another 17% has been degraded.
Australia's southeast has seen everything recently, record-breaking wildfires, heat, drought, and even torrential flooding, however, therecord-braking cold and heavy snow last July was the final nail in the coffin for many farmers.
According to Electrovers, on what was forecast to be Australia's coldest July day in recorded history, western and southern regions of NSW, hit historic lows of -7C (19.4F) and -8 (17.6C) were registered.
Farmers and citizens were also advised to take necessary precautions ahead of an unexpected cold snap which hit many parts of South Africa also in July 2021.
Millions of tons of dead fish have washing up along Florida's beaches since 2015 because of lethal red-tide algae blooms. The algae bloom causes sore eyes and throats for beachgoers not to mention the disgusting smell. A huge dead zone has opened up in the Gulf of Mexico where toxic waters enter the gulf from the Mississippi River killing all marine life.
Sea birds, as well as songbirds, are dying in mesmerising numbers, thought to be from lack of food. Last summer, it is thought more than 1 billion seashore animals died along the Salish Sea in British Columbia, Canada due to a record-breaking heatwave there. In parts of southern Canada and the west coast of the US, temperatures nudged, 50 deg C, 122 deg F. (Unliveable temperatures for most living organisms)
On the eastern side of the US, scientists are trying to find out just what mystery disease could be killing songbirds in their thousands. The disease was first recognised in the Washington DC area in May, 2021. Since then countless birds have died leaving scientists scratching their heads.
In May, 2021, an early heatwave in Baja Sur, Mexico caused the deaths of "thousands of tons" of sardines and other marine life. According to officials, nearly ’20 km of coastline’ was covered and the event was unprecedented in size.
In the summer of 2021, a lethal drought in Turkey is thought to be responsible for the deaths of thousands of baby flamingos. Drone footage showed thousands of dead chicks and infants buried in dry mud in the central province of Konya, with environmentalists blaming the deaths on climate change.
And, on-and-on I could go, but, I won’t, because I know you get the message.
What ever autumn 2022 has in store for us—Massive food shortages, incredible inflation, unpayable energy bills, poverty, evictions, civil unrest another Covid variant and maybe even WWIII—Remember the biggest underlying threat to our survival as a species is climate change!