March 30, 2014

Rainy day as seen through a windshield with wiper blades at work.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Parts of Maryland received well in excess of 4 feet of snow during the “Winter” of 2014-quotation marks are used because it has officially been Spring for over a week and snow is forecast for tonight into tomorrow morning for some parts of the state.  (It is snowing in parts of Pennsylvania as this post is being written.)  These are the highest snowfall totals for 4 years.  What will become that snow is now falling as heavy rain.  Parts of the state have already received over 2″ or rain so far this weekend.

Trees in Spring 2014 snow storm.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

UPDATE:  Not very long after I posted the original blog, the snow started, so the above photograph was added.  The following is the rest of the original post.

Locally, all of this precipitation means that the reservoirs are topped off.  It will be interesting to see what this looks like in August and September.  (A current photograph will be posted soon.)

Rainfall is also a precipitating factor in the massive mudslide in Oso, Washington on March 22.  Heartfelt condolences to those who have lost family members and friends.

As per the previous post, this winter would still be considered “weather” as it may be a short-term anomaly and the past 4 much warmer, drier winters may be the norm, which would be more indicative of the longer term impact of climate change for this particular area.  From a semantic standpoint, some appear to use the term “global warming”  and think that the planet will end up becoming hotter and drier.  While that is certainly true for some parts of the world, the Sahal region in Africa is an example, others will become cooler and wetter, and some may get both-the UK, for instance.  Hence the term “climate change” because that more accurately describes that the longer term overall warming of the planet will lead to regionally-experienced differences from what had been the norm.  As greenhouse gas levels rise, both the air and the seas warm causing air and ocean currents to change tracks.  This, in turn, leads to modifications in weather patterns and the need for human adaptation.

The areas of the planet in which millions of people live, work, and play face significant changes as both weather and climate change over time.  While it is not possible to say that climate change caused the Oso mudslide, being able to live, work, and play in that area will be affected for quite some time.  It has already been argued that building in that area was a risk due to previous slides.  Evolutionary Psychology studies what are referred to as “adaptive problems”-issues that occur repeatedly and the solutions to which impact the reproduction of a species.   Finding answers to adaptive problems allows for the development of other life-enhancing behaviours and tools that are staples of life in the post-modern age, according to those who support this view of human behaviour.  Climate change appears to be just such a problem.  The past 10 years or so have brought witness to some of the most devastating storms in human history:  Hurricane Katrina and SuperStorm Sandy and Typhoon Haiyan and the Moore, OK tornado are just a few.  The economic cost has been, and will continue to be, enormous-the human toll is just not measurable.

Adaptations to climate change have been implemented in some areas; the Make It Right Foundation’s work in New Orleans is an example-for others, solutions are being discussed.  For example, it has been proposed that New York City build flood walls and storm gates around Manhattan, at a cost of around $1.5-6.5 billion depending on the project.  This is a local solution to the problem of climate change.  Should climate change result in the melting of all the ice on earth, this project will be of no use-please take a look at this-216 feet is a very high wall.  And what happens to countries that do not have the funds for such a project?  Former President Mohammed Nasheed points out in The Island President that the Maldives can not afford such an effort.  (Last year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference appears to have provided some potential relief in this area:  richer, industrialized countries are to help pay for adaptation/mitigation efforts for poorer, less industrialized nations.  The details of this initiative have not been worked out and would most likely not take effect until 2020 anyway.  Parts of the Maldives could well be under water by then.)  Others argue for a far more encompassing solution:  geoengineering.  Such measures may well have unintended consequences (or “dysfunctions” according to sociologists who support Functionalist theory).  All of these are certainly adaptations and can have an effect on the survivability of some peoples.

It is clear that our lifestyles are precipitating factors in climate change.  Therefore, another adaptation would be making individual adjustments to our lifestyles to reduce our impact on the planet-lowering our personal carbon footprints would be a start.

Heady thoughts for a cold, rainy, Spring day.

Take care.

P.S. This is a much longer-than-usual post and is reflective of my stream of consciousness about the topics contained herein.  Many thanks to those who hung in and read the whole post.

2 Responses to “Precipitation”

  1. Gede Prama Says:

    site is really marvelous. Thank you for sharing and Greetings from Gede Prama 🙂

  2. morris Says:

    I read this post with a lot of nostalgia because I come from a area back in Kenya which has had a number of mudslides and is still very prone to mudslides. My condolences to those affected in Washington. Thanks for sharing the site and the post, and I have noticed these days you post a lot of pics in black and white? Any particular reason if you don’t mind me asking 🙂

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