A Climate Changed World

My latest blog post is written in the style of my story “A Dinosaur’s Last Roar“, but  it takes place in the past (last week to be exact) and is nonfiction. 

August 4th, 2017, Seattle, WA

I’ve lived in Seattle for over twenty years, and I’ve never seen it like this. The typical weather on this date is a pleasant 77 ºF with blue skies and 40% humidity. Today the temperature peaked at 93°F and would have been hotter, but smoke from 1.2 million acres of burning forest in British Columbia has blocked out the sun. It’s the second worst forest fire year on record for BC, and it’s supposed to get worse before it gets better. The haze reaches as far south as the Oregon border. We’re hoping that it doesn’t impact the viewing of the total eclipse of the sun later this month, which is much less exciting if you can’t see the solar corona through the smoke.

Today our air quality is worse than anywhere in the US. It’s even worse here than in many major cities in Asia including Beijing and Kolkata. We’re doing a small geoengineering experiment, since the forecast was for a record breaking 99F, but the smoke particles reflected enough sunlight that we only reached a miserable 93F.

The smoke that kept the sunlight out also trapped the heat in at night. Usually it gets cool at night here, thanks to our reasonably low humidity. In Seattle very few people have air conditioners, though that’s changing one window unit at a time, which are flying off the shelf. By mid-day the Home Depot in my neighborhood was down to a couple from the shipment that had arrived that morning.

Of course, you can’t judge by climate change by a single day or month or year. How about 70 years? I downloaded the mean temperature data from 1948 (when they started collecting data at SeaTac) to 2016 (the last full year) from the National Centers for Environmental Information (part of NOAA)  and fit the data to straight line. The data show an average temperature increase of 0.046 °F/year over that time.

This is what a climate changed world looks like: more forest fires, more days of extreme heat. Add rising sea levels and floods and you get the four horsemen of the apocalypse. At least our farmland isn’t being inundated with salt water, but the increase in pests will probably do the job just as well. Climate change is not something that’s coming, it’s something that’s here. Whether you see it or not, it’s here.

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