Crazy weather kept happening and nobody was willing to pin it officially on anthropogenic climate change -- until now. This new study, published in Nature, links severe rain events in the Northern Hemisphere like the Pakistan floods, 2000 UK flood, and the Nashville flood to climate change. From this Washington Post blog:
The study found that observed increase in deluges "cannot be explained by natural internal fluctuations of the climate system alone," said Zwiers. In other words, only the addition of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere explains why the United States and Canada have experienced a dramatic increase in heavy downpours.
The only complaint with the methods used is that they might not go far enough -- actual rainfall totals are actually slightly higher than models predicted.
Gulf Oil Disaster
Remember all the triumphant news of just how fast the oil was disappearing, thanks to dispersants and, like, mother nature? And how the Gulf was going to recover pretty quickly from the Macondo spill?
Time for the unanticipated consequences to start rolling in.
Baby dolphins are dying at a rate ten times the normal rate.
From ABC News:
The gestation period for bottlenose dolphins is between 11 and 12 months. "That means the mothers would have conceived between March and May. If the mothers are delivering their calves now and many are dying, that is significant," Solangi said.
Was it the oil? The dispersant? A combination? Petroleum is a long-recognized endocrine disruptor, and while Corexit, the dispersant used in the Gulf, appears in several studies not to increase uptake of the problematic compounds in petroleum, there are so many factors at play in the chemistry of the Gulf that we may not find one smoking gun.
The fact remains: Petroleum is an endocrine disruptor, a reproductive toxin, a carcinogen. (As it turns out, it is also a potent political and economic disruptor.) We are not that different from dolphins. With every new oil well, every tar sands operation, every refinery, we are courting infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth. We are courting breast cancer, testicular cancer.
Unfortunately the effects are not limited to those who profit from oil, or even those who use it. And the system is rigged so that it is almost impossible to avoid using petroleum in some form -- rigged because passenger rail and trolleys were bought up and dismantled by oil and automotive companies. And our government is subsidizing oil production to an almost unfathomable degree. It's about as far from a free market as you can get.
And here I stop. I am fortunate enough to have friends from all over the political spectrum, and I know that two reasonable, intelligent people can look at the same information and come away with different answers. All I know is that I cannot conceive of any defensible way that we as a country can continue our ways with oil; our response must be manifold, and there is room for more than one kind of solution.
But ending government subsidies for oil seems like a good start. I surely hate chipping in for my own endocrine disorder.