Tag: drought

Top 9 Immediate Concerns with Extreme Heat

Washington (GGM) Analysis | August 18, 2021 by author and climate journalist Noreen Wise

Human civilization evolved during the most stable climate conditions in the history of the Earth. Scientists refer to this era as The Holocene Epoch, a period of global temperature variations rising and falling between +/-1ºC, but never exceeding the +1ºC. This stability provided more than ten thousand years of reliable four seasons and predictable weather patterns. 

Now, for the very first time, we are above 1ºC. There is global alarm. Scientists are warning that we’re meeting this formidable foe decades earlier than expected. That with the melting icecaps, temperatures will rise much more rapidly. Many scientists warn that the temperatures might actually skyrocket exponentially. 

We are seeing other remarkable changes across the planet that are challenging the limits of our understanding of the climate system. We are now in truly uncharted territory.

World Climate Research Program Director David Carlson
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The sixth IPCC Report, released Monday August 9, 2021, outlines that scientists have no data or compass to accurately predict the future, nor accurately calculate the impact the extreme heat will have on every aspect of our lives. Reaching this dreadful heat marker this early has caught us off guard, and requires immediate action to curb the life-threatening negative impact.

Heart of the matter. Below are the top 9 immediate heat concerns to wrap our minds around. We should view each from the perspective of a citizen scientist: a learning experience to document and share with others.

  1. Work Performance. According to UCLA Assistant Professor for Public Policy Dr. Jisung Park, “heat hurts.” “Using data covering the universe of injury claims from the nations largest worker’s compensation claims,” Park and colleagues explored the link between heat and workplace safety and determined that injuries are more likely when temperatures are above a heat index of 90ºF.
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  1. Food Supply. Drought across the United States farmland in 2021 has dramatically reduced crop yield and impacted our overall food supply. Although the amount of rain is important, and having little of it causes great concern, the more notable telltale is soil moisture. Regenerative farmers and ranchers like Gabe Brown in North Dakota, have worked hard for decades to strengthen soil health on their land using an armor of diverse cover crops. This practice locks in soil moisture, which protects their crops in the event of a drought. But in general, according to Successful Farming: “Soil moisture levels, nationally, declined fast, with topsoil and subsoil both down 4% in adequate/surplus.” Conditions for conventional farmers are not looking good for a profitable harvest this autumn. Additionally, the public was advised several years ago to begin planting our own vegetables in case our food supply was threatened. Those of us who did, may have noticed that tomatoes don’t pollinate in high heat this summer and we only netted a few tomatoes per plant in Northern Virginia.
  1. Water. Years of drought out West have resulted in cascading negative fallout that has crimped the daily routines of millions of Americans. A water shortage has just been declared at Lake Meade along the Colorado River in Nevada. Lake Meade, now at a trifling 34 percent of capacity, is the largest reservoir in the US and supplies 25 million people with their water. Water restrictions have been established in many communities.
  1. Pets. Pets are often left in cars when owners dash into the grocery store or post office. Pets can die of heatstroke in 15 minutes in a hot car, and cracking the window won’t help. Further, asphalt is 40-60 degrees hotter than the air temperature, so walking our dogs on the scorching hot asphalt without little booties will fry their paws.
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  1. Explosions. There have been multiple random explosions at sites in the US and abroad, several of which have resulted in tragic deaths. These need to be properly investigated so we can learn if heat is causing spontaneous combustion. There are thousands of hazardous waste sites around the country, some of which are nuclear. Extreme heat has the potential to result in catastrophic blowback at all of these sites.
  2. Infrastructure. Extreme turbulence will become more common as the weather heats up and has the potential to result in passenger planes being violently tossed around, which may result in structural damage. New safety standards should be established in light of this potential constant stressor. Trains, subways, buses, and bridges are made of steel which expands in the heat. Cars have many plastic parts that can melt in the heat.
  1. Home Construction Safety Standards. The list is long and wide. Roofs must be reinforced to withstand the stronger winds and heavier rains. Sealants applied to exterior building walls will protect against frequent heavy downpours. New buildings should be required to have white roofs and white walls to reflect the sun’s energy.
  2. Lightning. Climate change has resulted in stronger and more frequent lightning strikes. In fact, three are more than 100 lightning strikes per second. One million lightning strikes that hit the ground per day. The vast majority of wildfires are started by lightning strikes. We need to make sure that our homes, and all structures, are grounded properly. New grounding standards should be established .
  1. Mental Health. According to American Psychiatric Association, extreme heat negatively impacts mental health. Therefore, we should all be mindful of the connection between the two, and be more aware of what symptoms to look for during heat waves.
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CALL TO ACTION. Contact your local, state and federal representatives and demand:

  • New OSHA protocols for those who work outside.
  • New building standards that guarantee roofs will be made much stronger, and exposed walls have a weather protection sealant. 
  • New requirements for new development homes be constructed with white roofs, and that parking lots and roads be painted white.
  • Lightning is bigger, badder and more frequent with the heat; all buildings need to be grounded, and grounded shelters should be required at all parks.
  • Stronger turbulence will undermine the safety of airplanes. There must be higher safety standards for planes as well as trains, subways and bridges made of steel. Melting plastic car bumpers are one thing, but engine tubes are another issue all together. Consumers shouldn’t have to shoulder the burden of melting auto parts.

We’re all citizen scientists now. We should be taking notes about how the heat impacts every aspect of our lives and sharing details through social media so that we can learn from each other. Drinking plenty of water in the heat is essential. And remember, never chug ice cold water after being out in the heat, we can shock our bodies.

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Top “How To” Tips to Help Make It Rain

Washington (GGM) Analysis | July 6, 2021 by author and climate journalist Noreen Wise

“Soil. Earth. Ground. And due to its vast scale and its ability to sequester immense quantities of greenhouse gases, it could just be the one thing that can balance our climate, replenish our freshwater supply, and feed the world. That’s why some people are racing to save our soil, in hopes that our soil just might save us.” —Award winning documentary, Kiss the Ground

Soil health becomes even more important once we realize our food supply is at risk due to conventional agriculture practices merging with climate change weather events that increase droughts and extreme heat. Currently, according to US Drought Monitor, there are 14 states experiencing extreme and exceptional drought conditions, with the following states having the highest exposure:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Utah
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Heart of the matter. In the center of California’s prosperous farm belt in the San Joaquin Valley, farmers are struggling to stay afloat after four years of extreme drought. In June 2021, the Fresno Bee published an article with the headline: San Joaquin Valley needs to stop waiting to be rescued. The piece outlined that the Bureau of Reclamation issued an update for the Central Valley Project for Agriculture informing farmers that water deliveries to famers were being reduced from 5% to 0%. Farmers would now have to rely on groundwater, which would likely be challenging due to reduced snowpack and little to no rain.

Pioneer soil health expert, and North Dakota rancher, farmer and author, Gabe Brown, knows the perils all too well and has been working tirelessly since the mid-nineties to educate and promote the six principles of regenerative agriculture to farmers across the country in an effort to help prevent the precarious downward spiral that leads to soil degradation when heat and drought set in. Additionally, Gabe was invited to speak to the House Agriculture Committee back in spring 2021 about the impact of climate change on farming.

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I recently spoke with Gabe and asked him what he recommended for homeowners in states experiencing drought conditions. Is it better to conserve water, or plant diverse no mow plants? He explained that the regenerative soil health principles are the same everywhere, and can be applied despite tough conditions. He suggested the following:

  • Plant diverse native species that are low water users.
  • We need living plants in order to get more rainfall (“people don’t often believe this, but it’s true”).
  • Living plants attract moisture conditions.
  • Plus they emit moisture.
  • Way better off to grow something than not.
  • We’re compounding the problem by NOT growing things.
  • Need to grow the right kind of plant that can tolerate these conditions.
  • Not only will plants create rain, they’ll also boost soil health and store more carbon above and below ground.

This can seem challenging to wrap our minds around, so I better repeat. If we want rain, we have to start planting the right native species. Live roots in the ground, generate the rain.

Next Steps

  • A quick search online populates lists of plants that grow well in drought conditions.
  • Become a citizen scientist and test to see which species grow best in your community.
  • Diverse mix of no mow, drought tolerant grasses are ideal.
  • Once we feel more certain about which plants will survive we can pass the word to neighbors as well as the environmental department at town hall. Collective action will turn us all into rainmakers.
  • Let’s give it our best shot.

Good luck!

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Oceans Are the Heart of the Climate Crisis

Washington (Gallant Gold Media Hill Report | Analysis | July 17, 2019)
NoreenProfilePicHillReport-75 by Noreen Wise

The melting glaciers are an urgent wake up call for all of us to pay attention to global warming. The vast mountains of snow and ice that blanket our poles, are what has provided climate stability for 20 million years. Glaciers breaking apart and melting, immediately raises sea levels along the world’s coastlines, particularly the entire East Coast in the United States, flooding many major cities from Maine to Florida.

If anyone is having trouble visualizing the dramatic impact of rising sea levels, please visit Miami ASAP. Scientists have determined, that due Miami being built on to the lime rock, retaining walls can’t save Miami. It literally won’t survive global warming. In fact, it’s projected that if we maintain to current carbon emission trajectory, Southern Florida is guaranteed to disappear, the only question is “when?”

Ocean waters store carbon, which has always been considered a good thing. Scientists refer to this as carbon sink. The positive benefits unraveled however, when the oceans began to store too much carbon, due to the rise in carbon levels in the atmosphere from irresponsible carbon emitting daily habits and lifestyle.

  • Too much carbon in ocean waters, raises the ocean temperature
  • Warmer ocean waters, melt the polar glaciers from underneath
  • Less snow & ice, and more water cause the oceans to heat faster because dark blue ocean waters store the sun’s heat, while white snow and ice reflects it; an increase in water equal an increase in heat
  • An increase in the amount of water on the globe, also esults in an increase of moisture in the air, causing fiercer storms
  • This massively shifting balance between ice and water and atmospheric moisture, alters the jet streams
  • Without the reliable jest stream moving storms along and out of the way, storms & droughts hover for much longer periods resulting in massive flooding and prolonged droughts
  • Prolonged droughts leads to entire communities having to relocate, often to foreign countries, resulting in a refugee crisis
  • We’re seeing this right now in Central America… the thin section of land, rising sea levels on both coastlines, sustained drought conditions in the middle, all this created by US carbon emission excesses; citizens fleeing the unlivable land to our southern border and then stuffed into concentration camps
  • The military and CIA have both asserted that Global Warming is a major nation security threat, particularly when we are blamed for another countr’s economic woes that result from climate woes

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It only takes a few of these events to open our eyes. But clearly in the past two years, we’ve seen the deadly weather systems destroy communities, and undermine our security.

It will take thousands of years to rebuild out glaciers, but we can immediately curb the rising ocean temperature by making different choices in 4 key areas for ourselves and our families, as well as speak with community leaders about using solar panels to run street and traffic lights as well as town buildings.

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Climate Change Expert  Dr. Joseph Romm, an MIT alumni, has organized Climate Action choices into four categories:

  • Transportation: make the switch to Hybrid or EV autos; public transportation, walk, scooter, ride bikes
  • Home:  go solar, LED lightbulbs, turn out lights when leaving a room
  • Diet: change our eating habits, red meat & dairy increase our carbon footprint
  • Stuff: buying, storing and carting around “stuff”

Switching from our current home electricity source to solar, and from current gas guzzling cars to Hybrids & EV’s is as exciting and life-changing as switching from flip phones to iPhones, or from 3G to LTE. Huge game changer that we immediately love and never look back.

We can do this!

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