Direct link between severe weather and air pollution?

Photo courtesy of Forkie at

As I write this, a large swath of China has been devastated by winter storms. Some news services are referring to this unprecedented weather as China’s Katrina.

Millions of people are without power, and essential supplies are running low due to blocked roads and collapsed bridges. There’s some worry about civil unrest throughout the country, and inflation is escaping the control of government agencies as people buy food and coal on the black market. I’d guess that a few companies who rely on Chinese factories are going to feel the pinch in coming weeks. You can see the extent of the problem on these satellite photos.

The question that comes to mind is what’s causing this crazy weather? Paradoxically, severe ice storms are one of the side effects predicted by global warming models. Other side effects include more powerful hurricanes, increased wildfires from lighting strikes, and more devastating tornadoes. One of the other paradoxes of climate change is that while some areas along the coast experience flooding, other areas my be plunged into drought.

Photo courtesy of oybay at

The United States is also experiencing some of these problems. Fierce winters have dropped unprecedented amounts of snow in the American Northeast. A new study hints at direct links between rainfall in the Southwest US and air pollution. This has some interesting implications on the drought that’s gripping the region.

These ongoing events will add some fuel to the fire of the global warming debate. Considering the amount of CO2 that the US and China are responsible for, it seems almost like justice that we’re experiencing the effects. Unfortunately, climate change doesn’t affect just the people who are responsible for it. Many island nations that produce virtually no pollution are being swamped by rising sea levels. Conservationists are just as likely to lose their homes to wildfires as anyone else. Tornadoes can hit wind turbines and do more damage than they would to coal power plants.

Severe weather affects us all.

anna February 14, 2008 at 1:32 pm

What’s your email address? How can I tell you about something exciting happening in the Green Funeral movement? anna

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