2015 Extreme weather conditions and possible explanations
Is 2015 following climate change predictions, creating scenarios which include more intense and frequent heatwaves, drought-and-flood cycles? Or is 2015 simply following the trend of variable weather conditions over time. The United Nations Organization's World Meteorological Organization draws some conclusions. But so do we...
On the given side are warnings of record-breaking temperatures and wildfires in the north of the American continent, and at the same time torrential rainfall in the south of the People's Republic of China. The Coordinator of the UNO's World Meteorological Organization World Climate Data and Monitoring Program, Omar Baddour, states that "The heatwave is still ongoing and it is premature to say whether it can be attributed to climate change or whether it is due to naturally occurring climate variability". However, he adds "But climate change scenarios predict that heatwaves will become more intense, more frequent and longer".
Certainly in the short term, as the official points out, the frequency between major heatwaves is decreasing, from 2003 to 2010 and from 2010 to 2015.
Very early in 2015
As far as 2015 is concerned, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) considers that the heatwave is unusual because it has arrived very early and because it is so widespread. According to the WMO, "The difference (when comparing 2015 with 2003 and 2010) is that the 2015 heatwave is much earlier and Europe much better prepared with heat-health action plans".
Over the last week, 623 climatic stations have broken their daily high temperatures in the north-western United States of America. Dry soils, parched bush and high temperatures, coupled with a virtual absence of rain, have created tinder-dry conditions in California, Oregon and Washington State, where temperatures have topped 40º Celsius. 17 climatic stations have broken all-time high maximum temperature records.
Alaska has already lost 1,600,000 acres of land to wildfires caused by lightning strikes in the "abnormally dry" conditions. On two days, between June 21 and 23, there were 50,000 lightning strikes recorded in Alaska.
Elsewhere, the picture is equally bleak. 1,200 people have died in Karachi, Pakistan as a result of the heatwave which hit the region in June. In May to June, over 2,500 people died in India, where temperatures reached up to 48º Celsius (Allahabad). In the People's Republic of China, a heatwave has forced the authorities to declare a level 4 weather alert, as record high temperatures and unprecedented torrential rains have caused widespread damage.
In 2014 there were also extreme weather events across the globe. The UK experienced the worst winter rainfall for 248 years, California on the other hand experienced a record water deficit of 62 trillion gallons; 20 people died in Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina in the worst flooding in 120 years; in Brazil, Rio Madeira showed the worst flooding for one hundred years; China was hit by Super Typhoon Rammasun, the worst in 40 years, which affected three million people; Tokyo experienced the worst snow storm for 45 years.
Is it all cyclical?
In 1920, the Serbian geophysicist Milutin Milankovic was already presenting a plausible cosmic cause for temperature variation and climate change. Before El Niño and La Niña warped out of the Oceans and morphed into the Carbon Theory, the Ice Ages came and went, wine-making used to be common in Northern England.
An examination of the data over the last 400,000 years indicates a direct correlation between temperature rises and increased natural emissions of CO2, with peaks and troughs occurring roughly every 50,000 years, the high and low Carbon Dioxide concentrations in ppmv corresponding directly to temperature rises and falls. If we accept the methods used to measure these fluctuations, there seems little room for doubt.
Where the Carbon Theorists now step in, is the presentation of an alarming trend over the last decades, namely an exponential increase in Carbon DiOxide emissions accompanied by a corresponding spike in temperatures - the last decade has been the warmest on record. However, there was an enormous increase in CO2 levels 240,000 years ago, 130,000 years ago and 15,000 years ago.
Milutin Milankovic (1879 - 1958) dedicated his scientific study to the effects of cosmic cycles, ocean currents and plate tectonics on climate change and his closer examination of the fact pointed towards the existence of changes in the cycle of the Earth's tilt every 41,000 years, which enabled him to predict changes in temperature (and climate) with remarkable accuracy.
Other studies indicate a correlation between peaks in temperature and 11-year solar flare cycles and their corresponding knock-on effect on ocean currents and thermal flows; the effect of water vapor as being far more significant that CO2; the fact that the Arctic ice cap has melted before; the emissions of methane gases from animals being far more voluminous than human GEG.
So Carbon emissions by humans are not the sole cause of climate change, since such fluctuations have occurred cyclically for hundreds of thousands of years and because there are other candidates to which to attribute the blame.
*Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey has worked as a correspondent, journalist, deputy editor, editor, chief editor, director, project manager, executive director, partner and owner of printed and online daily, weekly, monthly and yearly publications, TV stations and media groups printed, aired and distributed in Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Portugal, Mozambique and São Tomé and Principe Isles; the Russian Foreign Ministry publication Dialog and the Cuban Foreign Ministry Official Publications. He has spent the last two decades in humanitarian projects, connecting communities, working to document and catalog disappearing languages, cultures, traditions, working to network with the LGBT communities helping to set up shelters for abused or frightened victims and as Media Partner with UN Women, working to foster the UN Women project to fight against gender violence and to strive for an end to sexism, racism and homophobia. He is also a Media Partner of Humane Society International, fighting for animal rights.