It’s not wise to pin any one weather event on “global warming,” or “climate change.”
The climate changes all the time; it’s within my lifetime that there was common talk reported in this newspaper about the “coming ice age.”
But there’s general scientific consensus now that the globe is warming, and that more extreme weather is to be expected as a result.
When you have 100-mile-an-hour winds and a tornado warning in mid-December in Kansas, that’s certainly unusual in the lifetime of anyone reading this newspaper. Look at the pictures, if you haven’t already, of the dust in the air in, say, Garden City, and the wildfires that roared through several counties, and you come away with a feeling of something very odd going on.
We were relatively fortunate here in the Flint Hills, with no loss of life and relatively minor property damage. We have good warning systems, and buildings built to withstand serious storms, and people who are reasonably prepared for this sort of thing. Those are all things for which we can be thankful.
Was that particular event because of “global warming”? I don’t know, and I don’t think anybody can really say. But, if you back up and look across time and across distance, it does seem that weather events are intensifying. Dust-bowl conditions in western Kansas, tornado warnings and wildfires in December? Part of a pattern. Wildcat Creek flooding, every couple of years? A pattern.
It’s reasonable to also assume there will be more oddball weather events like this: Bigger storms, more flooding, more intense droughts. We should all plan accordingly, both individually and as communities.
That’s not an argument for or against any particular environmental policy. That’s not my point. My point is that extreme weather events are going to happen more often, whatever we try to do now. That horse is already out of the barn.
To those of us in northeast Kansas, I’m not sure that really means too much of a change. We’ve planned our lives to deal with tornadoes, torrential rain, scorching heat and Arctic cold. We’ve seen most of it – sometimes all in one week. As they say, if you don’t like the weather, just wait 15 minutes.
But it will affect us. I don’t exactly know how, and neither do you. What we do know is that we’ll have to deal with the likes of 100-mile-an-hour winds the week before Christmas. So, buckle up.