This is what Oliver Milman said in the Guardian about recent weather that has already occurred:
“The heat has been otherworldly, with Phoenix recently enduring a record six straight days above 115F (46.1C). A “heat dome” that settled over usually mild Pacific north-west pushed temperatures to reach a record 108F (42.2C) in Seattle and caused power lines to melt and roads to buckle in Portland. A few hundred miles north, a fast-moving wildfire incinerated the town of Lytton in British Columbia the day after it set a Canadian temperature record of 121F (49.4C). Barely into summer, hundreds of people have already died from the heat along the west coast.”
We all know climate has changed before. The climate is constantly changing everywhere. After all, at one time Manitoba had alligators growing in the far north, but that was hundreds of millions of years ago. And now the climate is changing fast—incredibly fast.
You might not notice by looking at all the swimming pools in Arizona or California, or green golf courses, with brown rough around each fairway, or the many new lawns grown by Canadian snow birds who think a desert deserves a well-manicured and well-watered lawn, but the American southwest, that I love so much, has been in a megadrought for about 20 years! The lawns don’t show it, but Lake Mead sure does. Lakes don’t lie like lawns do.
Oliver Milman described it this way in his Guardian article:
“The west has gone through periods like this “megadrought” , with only occasional respite, for the past two decades. But scientists have made clear the current conditions would be virtually impossible without human-caused climate change, pointing to a longer-term “aridification” of the region. All of the water conservation efforts that have kept shortages at bay until now risk being surpassed by the rising heat.”
Water in the American southwest has always been scarce. Well at least for the last couple of hundred million years. Before that much of this area was under water in an inland sea. Milman interviewed someone who knows what is going on:
“The amount of water now available across the US west is well below that of any time in modern civilization,” said Park Williams, a hydro-climatologist at Columbia University. Research by Williams and colleagues last year analyzed tree rings to discover the current dry period is rivaled only by a spell in the late 1500s in a history of drought that reaches back to around 800, with the climate crisis doubling the severity of the modern-day drought.
“As the globe warms up, the west will dry out,” said Williams. “The past two years have been shocking to me, I never thought I would see downtown LA reach 111F as it’s so close to the ocean, but we have some of the driest conditions in 1,200 years so the dice are loaded for more heatwaves and fires. This could be the tip of the iceberg, we may well see much longer, tougher droughts.”
I want to emphasize that this has already occurred. The environmental apocalypse is already here. It is really just a question of how people will adapt to it now that it is here. Yet the future is far from rosy. As Milman reported,
“Even with these adaptions, however, the decline of Lake Mead has caused the amount of hydro power generated by the dam to drop by around 25%. The drought is expected to cause the hydro facility at Lake Oroville, California, to completely shut down, prompting a warning from the United States Energy Association that a “megadrought-induced electricity shortage could be catastrophic, affecting everything from food production to industrial manufacturing”. The association added that such a scenario could even force people to move east, in what it called a “reverse Dust Bowl exodus”
I have friends of mine that have already sold their properties in Arizona. Not because they fear drought. Some got spooked by Covid-19, others were tempted to cash in good prices when the Canadian dollar was high. That wasn’t that long ago. Perhaps some of them might be grateful they left before the start of the reverse dust bowl. Time will tell. It always does.