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What Lies Ahead



February 15, 2015 -NASA released a report on Friday the 13th, detailing the effects of megadroughts they foresee occurring in the United States throughout the rest of this century.  I don’t think I need to tell you that the only way to mitigate these effects is by sharply reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE).  What might very well need saying is that our future and the future of humankind rests in the hands of the Chinese, and the people of India.

            Don’t misunderstand: we must all do much better, and very, very soon.  However, the population of the United States is paltry when compared with the populations of either of these two countries.  Combine that fact with the increasing demands of rising middle classes in both, and you get bad news.  Combine that bad news with the fact that China burns staggering amounts of coal, and you get, according to NASA, megadroughts in the United States.  What NASA has forecast for the rest of the world, I do not know.

            The Southwest and Central Plains are expected to suffer the most, although the rest of the country is predicted to become drier, as well.  My husband and I are moving to the Pacific Northwest later this year.  Currently, rainfall has been below normal even there; temperatures are also a bit higher.  The glaring exception to NASA’s prediction would appear, at present, to be the Northeast.  Earlier forecasts, made by other government agencies, have predicted increased rainfall for most of us.  I imagine the truth will be found somewhere in the middle.

            That said, the overriding principle that “wet will get wetter and dry will get drier” appears to be holding sway.  And, like it or not, your future, my future, everyone’s future is in the hands of the aforementioned Asian giants.  Finally, it would appear that extremes will be the new normal, rather than the moderate weather humanity has enjoyed for the last 10,000 years.  Past floods and droughts will pale in comparison with what lies ahead.

            Greenhouse gas emissions hold the key.  While it is no longer possible to simply stop global warming in its tracks, it will always be possible for us to mitigate its effects.  By the same token, continued emissions rates similar to those we now produce will lead to chaos.  How does NASA describe this?  I certainly have not read the report, but I gather they predict that people living in the most affected regions of the country will “migrate” to the eastern half of the country.  (Don’t forget that Texas will be a part of the affected region.)  This could very well lead to the complete breakdown of what passes for law and order in this country.

            I know that significant numbers of the Chinese people are extremely unhappy about air pollution in China, and that the government has achieved some minor progress in that regard.  Be aware, however, that the United States is not shipping the coal it still mines to the moon – it’s going to China.  Shame on us, shame on them.   We both need to mend our ways as quickly as humanly possible.

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