May 22, 2022

Climate Change News

Saving The Planet

Is this the end of summer as we have known it?

LOS ANGELES: In the state it perfected if it didn’t invent the American summer, the smell of 17 million gallons of spilled sewer persisted last week on a beach in Southern California. There were bare rocks where snow once covered the Sierra Nevada and bathtub rings where water once shone on Lake Shasta.

Forest fires roared all over the west, threatening the power grid, with smoke so thick that it could be seen from space, plummeting in the stream of lightning, delaying planes to Denver, returning the red sun to Manhattan. , creating his own time. Health officials warned that recent Death Valley-style heat waves had contaminated Washington state seafood. The monsoons razed cars off the road to Arizona. The songbirds of Pennsylvania were dying.

The season that Americans thought we knew: of playing time and ease, of a sun we could trust, of air we could breathe, and of a natural world that, at worst, was indifferent, it has become something else, something nefarious and immense. This is the summer we saw as climate change fused from the abstract to the present, the summer we realized that every summer from now on will be more like any picturesque memory of past summers.

Forest fires, drought, sewage spills, a resurgent virus: separately, each is a family hazard. But this year, the worst cases have come en masse and just as expectations were high, this summer would be especially joyful.

In fact, a “summer of joy” was what the White House explicitly promised after more than 600,000 deaths from Covid-19 and more than a year of losses, sacrifices and isolation. The vaccines were being put on the coronavirus quickly, almost miraculously. Governments were lifting emergency health orders. Families planned meetings. The restaurants reopened stands. The hugs came back. And handshakes.

All this has changed on a route of heat-sunken roads, strange monsoons and collapsed buildings. Our keyword has been “extreme”: extreme threats to public health, extreme violence, extreme division, extreme climate.

In Florida, algae blooms known as the red tide have wiped out hundreds of tons of marine life. In the spring, a leak at the former Piney Point phosphate plant dumped more than 200 million gallons of wastewater into Tampa Bay.

Scientists wondered for months how the red tide could affect this year. Now they have their answer. “The smell was brutal,” said Mia Huffman, 18, a Maryland tourist who had recently landed on Florida’s Pass-a-Grille Beach in Pinellas County, just in time to witness a young boy in water and pluck a dead fish from feet long.

America has known horrible summers before. In the summer the Manson family murdered in Los Angeles in 1969. Sam’s summer in New York in 1977. In the summer of 2019, when 26 mass shootings occurred in 18 states, including one of the worst-motivated massacres for hating modern American history at a Walmart in El Paso. What is different this time is the large volume of catastrophes, natural and man-made, and the feeling that there is no going back.

“Here in Los Angeles, we’ve had periods of extreme drought and periods of extraordinary flooding, political turmoil, ecological degradation, and a pandemic in 1918, and of course heat waves and wildfires,” DJ Waldie said. cultural historian and author in Southern California. “But they didn’t all come on the same summer day.”

Scientists say the daunting assembly is the result of population and climate-related pressures they have been warning about for decades.

“Climate science couldn’t predict it would be 2021, unlike 2017 or 2023,” said Rick Thoman, a climate specialist at the University of Alaska. “But it’s not unexpected and we have a good idea of ​​what the long term will be like: it will be a painful transition and, in a couple of generations, the world will be different, different from the world it was and different from the world it is now.”

We live the summer on a regional, personal and universal level. For some, this summer has offered a respite, worry-free and as close to normal as the pandemic will allow. Air travel has been on the rise. National parks record visitor records. More than two-thirds of American adults have received at least one vaccine, allowing them to get together. And the union has, in fact, been joyful. Last week, at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, an outdoor audience, full of shocks, chopped down glasses of wine and danced in their seats, leaving their masks on as the hills surrounding them darkened.

But unless greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, scientists say, the massive floods, severe droughts and catastrophic ocean warming the world is experiencing will now only get worse, generating bigger fires, more violent storms, more floods. severe and more extinction. The World Meteorological Organization reported last month that the average temperatures on the planet were already consistently at least 1 degree Celsius warmer than in the late 1800s.

“You see a gradual change for a while and then you reach that threshold of pressures that make all hell fall – that’s what we’re seeing this summer,” said Anthony Barnosky, a Stanford University biologist who manages the Jasper Ridge Biological Reserve in the Santa Cruz Mountains, where he studies the impact of humans on the environment and other species.

The biggest focus is on human domination, which is so significant that some scientists have argued that it is a new “anthropocene” geological epoch.

“The Anthropocene has arrived,” Dr. Barnosky said. “Humans have become as influential on the planet as the asteroid that wiped out dinosaurs.”

The look and feel of this wake-up call this summer, day in and day out, has not been reassuring, as Americans are introducing smoke cleaning air purifiers (the new must-have for homes Westerners) and dodge the awkward encounters with those resistant to the vaccine. It has appeared in ways as small as ticks whose number has exploded in the Midwest and as large as the cost of road repairs on Alaska’s melting permafrost.

In the Seattle area, he is on the payroll of Day & Nite Plumbing & Heating, where staff worked 16-hour shifts for nearly a week during the recent heat wave. “I see this is going to become the new norm, these extremes and things like that,” said Day & Nite co-owner Bruce Davis Sr., who called for “all hands on deck” after the sun Air conditioning requests would triple to 150 per day.

A recent study showed that there were probably many days to break records. Scientists project that if warming continued at a relatively fast pace, record heat waves would be up to 21 times more likely by the end of the 21st century compared to the last 30 years.

For many American children, this new summer can become all they ever know. The kind of summer in which a high school football camp moves inside a gym after a harsh June 115-degree gust in Arizona; where school buses in Kennewick, Washington, are getting too hot to get in and playgrounds are too hot to play with.

On a sunny July afternoon in Glendale, Southern California, a boy was perched climbing Holy Family Grade School trying to start a tag game in the summer.

Again and again he called to something no one could distinguish, with the words muffled by a thick black mask.

Finally, the boy ripped off the cloth and shouted the question of play time called by the children in the school yard through the centuries, regardless of the heat and the threat of airborne diseases.

He shouted, his voice defiant, his face sweaty and flushed, “Who is it?”

Hallie Golden i Elizabeth Djinis has provided reports.

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