EXTREME WEATHER & WORLDWIDE CLIMATE CHANGE
In 1991 I experienced the Halloween Snowstorm in Minneapolis. It was one of the most devastating snowstorms we had every known in our lifetimes. I remember going to work that day on the bus. When I arrived I was met by some employees who surprisingly showed up despite the condition of the roads. We all received a free breakfast and a full day’s pay and were sent home.
Recently we experienced a very strange winter which alternated between extreme cold and weekly snowstorms. In February and March our weekly snowstorms produced anywhere between three inches and one a foot of snow. I have lived in Minneapolis for over 25 years and have never experienced a winter like this one.
What is happening now on planet Earth? The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) says that the last 10 years have been the warmest temperatures we have experienced on the planet since 1000 C.E. What contributes to the problem of extreme weather are many factors: ocean patterns, upper winds, Arctic sea ice melting and the shape of the jet stream. There has been more intense heat waves and with this warming you get heavier rainfalls and more snowstorms. Arctic ice melting is faster in the last 500 years. Parts of the Arctic ice sheet are disappearing because of higher temperatures. Colder air is going down into the northern latitudes in Canada, Northern Europe and the United States because of the wind patterns and the Arctic ice melting at an alarming rate.
Heat waves are becoming much more common because of global warming. Many of these heat waves have tripled in the length of their occurrences. Droughts have occurred in California, Minnesota, Texas and Oklahoma. In recent years there has been an increase in more days over the 100 degree temperature mark in California, Texas and Oklahoma.
We are also getting more heavy downpours of rain in the Northeast, Midwest and Upper Great Plains. The increase of nearly 30% is above the 1901-1960 average rate. In the last 25 years, I have definitely noticed an increase of sudden downpours in the spring and summer in Minneapolis. These downpours are intense for an half hour with big amounts dropping all at once. These are urban flash floods. The amounts are so extreme that umbrellas won’t even protect you. You simply have to wait an half hour to an hour before their intensity decreases enough to walk down the street.
Floods are becoming a big problem in different locations of the world. We are filling up sandbags in St. Paul to protect against these floods. Kerala, India had extreme amounts of water recently. Floods are becoming very common in Trinidad. Floods cause thousands of deaths worldwide and billions of dollars in property and crop damage. From 1981 to 2011 property and crop damage totaled eight billion in the United States.
Hurricanes have definitely increased. Al Gore published Earth in the Balance in 1992 and predicted a big increase in hurricanes. Higher sea temperatures have contributed to an increase in the number of hurricanes. The strongest hurricanes (Category 4 & 5) have greatly increased all over the world.
Cyclones and tornadoes have also increased in recent years worldwide. Recently Mozambique experienced an extreme cyclone, which caused extensive damage and destruction. In Minnesota a few years ago, we had a big devastation in our communities in North and South Minneapolis from tornadoes. Every year Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Minnesota have tornadoes, but their intensity and damage has greatly increased in the last ten years.
A real strange thing has been happening in the Arctic recently. Rain is falling in this region in the winter time. We had this problem in Minneapolis recently prior to one of our snowstorms. It froze over night, making very hazardous conditions on our sidewalks and roads. Driving and walking was a challenge. Scientists have studied this occurrence in the Arctic and found that there were 12 spells of rain in the winter time in 2012 compared to two spells in the beginning of the study. Warming in the Arctic is occurring at twice the rate of the rest of the planet.
What we need to do is to plant more trees to reduce the rate of global warming. Organic agriculture should be the kind of farming which should be promoted in the future and present time. The diversity of crops and use of natural fertilizers, such as pulses (peas & legumes), reduce the amount of carbon dioxide. Reducing ranch land will happen as more people reduce their red meat consumption. Those who eat meat are now eating more poultry than red meat than in the past. Read meat consumption has declined because of health and ecological concerns. Many McDonald’s restaurants have closed in the last five years. More people are consuming organic foods. Organic farming is definitely the most profitable form of agriculture today, so many younger farmers are organic farmers.
Alternative and renewable energy sources are becoming more established in the United States. There has been a dramatic increase in wind, solar and geothermal energy in the last ten years. The price of renewable energy continues to drop and coal is becoming the dinosaur form of energy. Electric cars are also more common in addition to hybrids of various types. Energy efficiency is also becoming very popular. All of these practices need to be increased to reduce global warming and save our beautiful planet for future generations.
This is certainly in line with the values of all faith traditions. The Vedas was the first ecological text book and still is one of the best guides for our future. The seers really could see so far that they knew what we would need for our current times. It is time we implement these great practices and traditions.
JAI SHRI WEATHER! JAI MA! JAI SHRI ALTERNATIVE ENERGY!