Global warming is making hot days hotter, rainfall and flooding heavier, hurricanes stronger and droughts more severe. This intensification of weather and climate extremes will be the most visible impact of global warming in our everyday lives. It is also causing dangerous changes to the landscape of our world, adding stress to wildlife species and their habitat.
Oklahoma has never been short of some level of weather extremes, but the pendulum has been swinging ever more widely during the past few years, noticeable even during the relatively short time I've lived here (since late 2004). Our local newspaper's headline today was apt: "From the Driest to the Wettest". Texas, our neighbour to the south, is experiencing much the same, and worse in some areas. (See here).
This year's long, colder than usual winter followed a few very dry summer seasons. The state experienced ongoing severe drought conditions. These are suddenly ending with weeks of regular violent storms and torrential rains. I'll not even mention the attendant tornadic activity because that comes with the territory, always has.
In 2015 the annual rainy tornado season is lasting longer, with regular daily storms, heavy rainfall bringing flash floods. Rivers and lakes are filling rapidly, some overflowing. In many ways we are thankful - this is beneficial, much needed.
Yet, one does wonder.
What if this is part of a new pattern? Could the region cope with a regular mini-monsoon season? I doubt it. Drainage systems here have always seemed primitive to me, coming as I did from oft rain-soaked England where they have the drainage issue down to a fine art. Even there, though, flooding occasionally does cause problems.
Will local Okie and Texas politicians ever deign to accept that climate change is actually happening? If they do, eventually accept as much, will they have the gumption to do something about trying to slow down the rate of change?