Extreme is the new normal
The conference held recently at Union College on the subject of climate change adaptation was punctuated by a resounding exclamation point in Georgia and Alabama this week. Regional EPA administrator Judith Enck told the audience that the debate about whether the climate is changing is over and irrelevant in light of the evidence that we are experiencing extreme weather events to a greater degree, and more frequently. Planning for the future climate change is no longer a luxury, but necessary.
Scientists base conclusions on evidence, and the evidence presented by recent graduate student Elizabeth Rodiger clearly shows that the average temperature in Schenectady is increasing steadily. How does this relate to a snowstorm in Georgia ? While an upward three degrees of difference here may seem inconsequential, it is a clear signal that the atmosphere is not the same as it was in 1939. Further, the laws of physics require that somehow balance will be achieved, and the extremes are part of that balancing act. In short, the cold spells will be colder, and the warm spells will be warmer.
In the aftermath of course we see Monday morning quarterbacking efforts that put the Super Bowl to shame as many try to syndicate the responsibility for decision making. The lesson learned is that the planning efforts must be made sooner rather than later, and with an eye to the facts – Mother Nature bats last.