Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – As if the coronavirus pandemic, depression-era unemployment, and a mad President in the White House were not enough, Mother Nature has decided to remind us what the Big Kahuna really is. It is the climate emergency. May was not only the hottest May since 1880, it was 18° F. (10° C.) hotter in the Arctic than normal according to the European Union’s Climate Program Copernicus site. And it is not a May fluke. Temperatures have been 12 degrees above normal since January.
The small Siberian town of Verkhoyansk had a temperature of 100.4° F. on Sunday, something that has never happened since Thomas Edison’s incandescent light bulb was first used outside in 1880, and likely hasn’t happened for millions of years. AP reports that 680,000 acres are on fire. In.The.Arctic. These fires are not just a summer phenomenon, and are being called “Zombie fires” because they have kept being rekindled since last winter.
h/t EU’s Copernicus Program.
Danish climate scientist Martin Stendel underlines that it isn’t just a matter of it being a little hotter than usual. We should all be hearing the Twilight Zone theme song in the background. Stendel points out that this spike over the 1981-2010 average temperature would under ordinary circumstances be a one in a 100,000 year event. Because we human beings are causing a climate emergency by doing things like driving gasoline cars and burning coal for heating, air conditioning and electricity, actually this temperature peak is just par for the course.
Temperature anomalies in May 2020, expressed as standard deviations from the average 1981-2010 in the @CopernicusECMWF #ERA5 reanalysis. Note the 5σ deviation in northwestern Siberia, would be a 1 in 100000 year event for a normal distribution of anomalies without climate change. pic.twitter.com/29u87uJ88o
— Martin Stendel (@MartinStendel) June 9, 2020
While climate scientists knew that this would happen, they were expecting it to happen in 2100, not in 2020. It is eighty years early, according to CBS meteorologist Jeff Berardelli, who pointed out that Miami has only ever hit 100° F. just once. (H/t to Harry Cockburn at The Independent for this cite).
The extreme warming has made the permafrost soft and caused a huge fuel tank to rupture and spill massive amounts of petroleum from Russia into rivers, lakes and the Arctic Ocean. This catastrophe points to the ways that the climate emergency will cause other emergencies.
People who love people don’t burn coal and gasoline.