Saturday, August 7, 2010

Nobody could have predicted....

We're having a cool summer here in Sonoma County. It's wonderful. I'm grateful to live here when I read about the muggy, sticky steam bath that the rest of the country is suffering in.

Those of you having to endure that, can take a tiny bit of comfort in the fact that others have it worse:
The extreme heat has led to the worst drought conditions in European Russia in a half-century, prompting the Russian government to suspend wheat exports. The drought has caused extreme fire danger over most of European Russia (Figure 3), and fires in Russia have killed at least 50 people in the past week and leveled thousands of homes. The fires are the worst since 1972, when massive forest and peat bog fires burned an area of 100,000 square km and killed at 104 people in the Moscow region alone. Smoke from the current fires spans a region over 3,000 km (1,860 miles) from east to west, approximately the distance from San Francisco to Chicago.
Stephen Andrew explains what this would be like here:
To put this in rough perspective -- and note this is not absolutely precise, it's purely ballpark to give you some feel for what the Russian people are enduring -- if this heat wave was hitting North America, it would be near 100°F in Fairbanks, Alaska. Most of Canada would be baking at 100° or higher, the northeast, from Maine to the Great Lakes region would be hitting upwards of 105° everyday, even the nightly low in the massive urban heat islands of New York and Chicago would be over 90°! The midwest grain belt and parts of the Pacific Northwest would not see a drop of rain for two months and pushing as high as 110° in places. The desert southwest, even some of the higher elevations of Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and West Texas, would be as uninhabitable as Death Valley or the Sahara.
A nightmare scenario that, sadly, we have been warned about for many years. Nobody wanted to hear it then, and people still don't, now. The problem with all of this is that these nightmare scenarios are now reality, and this reality will get worse. How much worse depends on what we do next.