Learning How to Deal With Climate Change
Regardless of the cause, there is little doubt that the Earth’s climate is changing and weather is becoming more extreme. We have seen more frequent hurricanes, more violent tornadoes, deadlier wild fires, and colder winters. Many parts of the world are suffering from drought conditions while others are suffering frequent floods following torrential downpours. Mudslides and landslides continue to cause havoc in the poorest communities while seaside resorts are being battered by violent winter storms.
Over the past year we have seen power supplies cut off for millions of people, rail networks shut down, huge swathes of the land flooded for weeks at a time, and whole communities trapped by snow. Overall we are coping at the moment, but climate change experts have predicted that this is only the beginning and that these extreme weather patterns will continue to get worse. Are we prepared for what is to come?
What Is Extreme Weather?
Extreme weather is simply the phenomenon of significantly different weather conditions. For example, we have snow most winters but extreme weather is when the snow falls for longer and settles much deeper. Prolonged periods of cold temperatures result in the snow staying for weeks longer than usual rather than melting in early spring.
Another example is extreme rainfall. Rain is of course normal and our society has been built to cope well. We have good drainage in agricultural fields and in all settlements, however, if rainfall is extreme, rainstorms deliver much more water in a short time and drainage channels cannot cope. The result is flooded land due to drainage channels being at full capacity and burst riverbanks that send water flowing into towns and villages.
We have also seen hurricanes become more severe. Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Haiyan in 2013 were two of the most severe hurricanes recorded in America. They brought devastation to coastal towns and cities. In 2012, Superstorm Sandy, while not as severe as Katrina, brought destruction to the east coast of the U.S.
If extreme weather is going to be brought under human control then we need to make many improvements to infrastructure. Some power companies are starting to prepare for extreme weather by burying more power cables rather than relying on overhead power lines. Power lines are always brought down during severe storms, either directly blown down or damaged by falling trees. Burying all cables should ensure that future storms cannot cut off power supplies, although this is a monumental task for power companies and requires a huge investment.
In the UK, which experienced severe flooding in 2013, the government has funded more river dredging projects to help increase the capacity of rivers to carry water. Unfortunately, it was previous government policy to not dredge rivers that worsened flooding in the first place.
Governments all over the world have to balance their budgets and many years of complacency has resulted in flood defenses being neglected. What is the U.S. government do in cases of severe flooding? Be sure to educate yourself.
What Can You Do?
There are many things that you can do to best prepare for extreme weather. First, determine if you are in a flood risk area. Many people are, and many are not. If you are in a flood risk area, ensure that you have plenty of sandbags ready. These can be stored for years in a dry place so it is sensible to make them before the flood comes.
If you live in an area with increasingly bad snowfall you should equip yourself with some good snow shovels as well as ensure that you have clothing to protect yourself. Snowshoes make walking across snow much easier so ensure that everybody in your household has a pair.
If you live in a very remote area that suffers a lot of snow it may be sensible to invest in a snowmobile; this could provide the only transportation to shops and medical services in the winter. If you have a snowmobile, always ensure that it is well serviced and that you have some spare parts at home. Check out Pat’s snowmobile parts for all the essential items.
Whenever there is an extreme weather event that the news channels report, panic at supermarkets with people buying everything on the shelves starts very quickly. If you think ahead you do not need to be one of those people. Stockpile essentials such as bottled water and tinned food that does not need to be cooked. Make sure that you have enough food and water in the house to allow you to survive for two weeks with no gas, electricity or water.
The scientists predict that things are only going to get worse. Every autumn and winter we should expect more extreme storms with flooding, snow and high wind causing havoc across the land. Be prepared for the worse and you will be able to cope.
[Photo Credit: NGM.com]