There is no doubt that the weather we have had this year has been weird, culminating in rare June rain. Can we attribute these record highs and lows, droughts and floods to a newly unstable climate? Might that be because a century of greenhouse gas emissions has trapped solar heat, magnified the shifts of the jet stream and polar vortex, and wildly distorted one of the principal determinants of our weather systems?
Absolutely! Climate scientists began predicting such weather weirding over a century ago. According to NASA’s climate website, back in 1896 Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius predicted that atmospheric CO2 would raise global temperatures by the greenhouse effect. The connection was confirmed by Guy Callendar in 1938.
Now CO2 levels have reached a record high of 424 ppm, up from the 280 ppm level of the pre-industrial age, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The jet stream looks like a pretzel; Canada is suffering record heat, severe drought, and wildfires while we’re seeing record low temperatures and flooding. If this continues, such weird extremes will get weirder.
So, we might ask, “What can we as individuals do?”
Plenty! We can electrify our cars, homes, and businesses. We can plant carbon-absorbing trees and support the preservation of forests. We can join groups such as Citizens’ Climate Lobby and the SLO Climate Coalition to fight the problem together. There is strength in numbers, and together we can slow the rising CO2 emissions that are weirding our weather.