Friday, May 14, 2010


US Government agencies have been keeping careful track of the weather disasters since 1980, chart is above. This is the kind of timeline of changing weather tracked by the benchmark of frequency and cost in dollars that shows in straight numbers what's been happening over the last 30 years. The direct costs, not including the human and cultural damages, have been escalating dramatically even as the argument continues about what is happening.

This issue is outlined in Storm Warning, by Lydia Dotto, the the book on which a more recent book, The Great Warming is based. A summary from Amazon:

The Ice Storm of 1998. The flooding of Manitoba of 1997. Wherever you live, it's likely you've experienced some extreme weather lately. A recent report from the Red Cross stated that natural catastrophes in 1998 has wreaked the most havoc on record, and warned that a series of "super-disasters" could be imminent.

What's behind all this stormy weather?
In Storm Warning, science writer Lydia Dotto shows there's strong evidence our climate is changing due to human interference, and that the events of recent years are just a dress rehearsal for dramatic changes in the earth's climate.

Climate conferences like those held in Rio in 1992 and Kyoto in 1997 were supposed to set the world on a course for change. Instead, they have led to political squabbles, watered-down resolutions and a disturbing failure to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that have been targeted as the main culprit in creating the global warming trend. Storm Warning illustrates the dire consequences of delay and inaction on both the personal and political fronts. In the climate change game the stakes are disturbingly high -- with the very future of life on our planet at risk.

The Great Warming, by Brian Fagan is a more recent book that ties the climate changes of past history to the decimation of entire cities and cultures, such as the Mayan civilization and other indigenous peoples living in the American Southwest and in South America. These areas have been historically documented as being vulnerable to drought, the most destructive weather condition known to human civilizations. No water means no food, as well. He outlines the methods by which many of these earlier civilizations were able to flexibly live within the rather sparse environment until long droughts sent the whole city packing. At least then, there was someplace to run to.

There's a video here, and a movie based upon the book coming to a theater near you soon.