OK, let’s talk about climate change

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Over the last several weeks, I’ve been writing about the disastrous wildfire situation going on across the western U.S. and the rest of the world. Last week’s article reported that “decades of fire suppression and historic logging patterns have created small, dense forest stands that are more vulnerable to large wildfires. Officials believe that fire suppression only delays the inevitable as the blazes can become more severe due to the accumulation of small trees and brush.”

The same article also pointed out that extended heat and dryness were other factors that led to the increased wildfire situation. However, I did not specifically mention that climate change was an influence as well. Some readers responded that Cliff Harris and I are “climate deniers.”

Well, Cliff and I DO believe in climate change. Our planet has been experiencing climate changes since the beginning of time. Our long-term chart at www.longrangeweather.com, dating back to 2,500 B.C., indicates that there have been at least 78 major temperature swings in the last 4,500 years. Two of those big changes have occurred since the 1970s.

Therefore, we, Meteorologist Randy Mann and Climatologist Cliff Harris, believe in rather frequent climate changes in our global weather patterns. Geologic evidence shows our climate has been changing over millions of years. The warming and cooling of global temperatures are likely the result of long-term climatic cycles, solar activity, sea-surface temperature patterns and more.

However, mankind’s activities such as the burning of fossil fuels, massive deforestations, the replacing of grassy surfaces with asphalt and concrete, the “Urban Heat Island Effect,” are likely creating more pollution and enhancing the effects of our changing climate. But to say that mankind’s harmful effects are entirely responsible for this change in our climate is a statement that we do not agree with.

From my experience reading countless arguments from both sides, I am not certain what percent of a global effect mankind’s activities are having versus weather and sun cycles. In this instance, time will tell. Yes, we believe we should be “going green” whenever and wherever possible to improve our environment.

My position is based upon my own data and historical information. For example, back in the 1970s, scientists were screaming “ice age” as Earth’s temperatures were dropping. Then, our planet’s temperature started warming and continued that trend into the early 2000s. “Global warming” had now become a household term.

From 2007 to 2009, there was a big surprise as our planet’s temperature dropped close to one degree Fahrenheit, which was likely due to very low solar activity and a strong, cooler than normal sea-surface temperature event, La Nina. As a result, “global warming” soon became “climate change.”

After 2009, Earth’s temperature rebounded to a 2016 average world high of 58.69 degrees. The 20th century average was approximately 57.0 degrees.

In my opinion, it’s difficult to say where we go from here. With low solar activity expected and a possible new and strong La Nina event in the next several years, Earth’s temperature could dip once again. We also believe that Earth’s temperature will keep rising, even if there is a brief cooldown, into the middle of this century. It’s possible Earth’s temperature could go as high as 60 degrees Fahrenheit by 2040.

I’ve had recent discussions with other meteorologists and climatologists, including some at Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology in Melbourne. There is one thing we all can agree upon: Weather patterns across the globe are taking longer periods of time to evolve. In other words, we seem to be stuck as world pressure systems have become more stationary. Therefore, droughts are lasting longer and floods are more severe. Yes, this can be considered an example of climate change.

I’ve gotten numerous emails on why I do not cover climate change or other subjects relating to this matter more extensively. Honestly, there is so much written about both sides of this issue, I choose to write about other topics as well as our long-range weather outlook. But, I appreciate the suggestions.

Now, in other weather news, the wildfire storms in California comprise one of the worst fire seasons in history. This is the second consecutive year with terrible fires across the western U.S. Pollution levels have been hazardous, and officials are informing residents who are sensitive to smoke to stay indoors. Fire tornadoes have been spotted as the blazes are generating their own winds. Gusts from this phenomenon have been near 150 mph.

Here in North Idaho, our skies have been polluted by the haze and smoke from major fires in Washington and Oregon. On Thursday, Aug. 9, we had our first 100-degree day since Aug. 13, 2015. Friday was another hot day as record-breaking heat was reported.

It still looks like we’ll have a hot and dry weather pattern with highs back in the 90s later this week. There is a chance we could see a little moisture next week, and there is another possibility of rainfall as we get toward the “full moon” cycle on Aug. 23. Stay tuned.

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