Letter Re: Pondering Some Personal Consequences of Global Climate Change

While the pundits assure us that global warming, if real at all, won’t affect us in our lifetime, other scientific models suggest explosive climate shifts as ‘tipping points’ are reached. (See the movie The Day after Tomorrow regarding tipping points). Discoveries of animals flash frozen solid with fresh grass their stomachs points to the possibility of a very fast onset to global climate change. While suddenly finding yourself in an Arctic climate is likely not survivable, we must consider if we have the flexibility to survive in a radically different or highly volatile climate. Global warming can make warm places colder and cold places warmer. Dry places wetter and wet places drier. Rather than thinking of global warming as a ‘warming’ per-say (as in the end it may even trigger an ice age), think of it as having the potential of radically changing in any direction your historical weather pattern and making weather very unpredictable. Questions to ponder are:

If it got much wetter/drier where I live what would happen? What if the rain stops, or it rains 50 times more than it used to? If you rely on catchment and the rain stops, then what? If you rely on a well in an otherwise dry climate, are you prepared for flash floods? Do you have proper drainage ditches?

If it got much warmer or much colder, do you have heirloom seeds for temperate and tropical climates? Are you prepared to build a greenhouse if temperature fluctuates from 70F to 6F in a matter of weeks (as it did in New York City recently). Do your crops require a frost and what if you don’t get one? Will your crops be killed by a frost and what if you do get one? If you live in the tropics, do you have any cold weather gear?
Warm weather can bring insect and vermin to an area that would otherwise not survive. Could your crops deal with insects from another climate? Witness the rising of malaria in locations that had until now been at a high enough altitude to prevent mosquitoes from thriving in central American cities. Alternatively, if you hope to add to your larder by hunting game and migratory bird, what if the birds shifted their flight path to accommodate a weather change? What if the local deer decided en masse to move south (or whatever direction was warmer)? If you hope to fish to augment your protein stores, what if the fish (which are as we speak disappearing) left your shores or your waters became another notorious ‘dead zone’?

If it got much windier or less windy, then what? If you rely on wind power and the wind patterns shift direction, can you move your system to accommodate it? What if the winds stop entirely (unlikely as climate changes tend to make for more wind not less), then what? If it got much windier, can your wind generating equipment handle it? Can you house survive a hurricane in a location where houses are not built with hurricanes in mind? (Remember the recent Pacific Northwest windstorms?) Would your crops suffer if your windbreak were suddenly on the wrong side of your farm?

If you rely on solar [power or water heating] and you go from a sunny location to clouds all the time, then what? Do you have crops that can handle both high levels and low levels of sunlight?

Do you have snow tires or chains for your car? What would you do if your roads were covered in snow and ice? Do you have anti-freeze?

Where would a 15 foot rise in sea level put you? – SF in Hawaii