Climate Change Produced Extreme Weather In 2021

Climate Change is real and it is happening now. Look at all the historic disasters in 2021 to see the impact of climate change. The climate is getting more destructive with stronger storms every year that kills more people and costs more money. The wet areas are getting wetter and the dry areas are getting dryer. If we don’t get off of our addiction to fossil fuels, and cutting down forests we can expect more deadly and extreme weather. 

In 2021 while Seattle sizzled with a record high of 108 degrees Texas froze, dipping into the single digits. The Arctic plunge overwhelmed the power grid leaving 4 million households without power and over 210 people died. Crops froze in the Rio Grande Valley.

The damage will likely go down as the first billion-dollar disaster of 2021, according to https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/billions/ 

Texas Senator Ted Cruze thought this a good time to take his family on a vacation to Cancun, Mexico leaving his constituents to fend for themselves. 

Scientists believe the warming of the Arctic has disrupted the winds that encircle the pole, unleashing frigid air as far south as Mexico and a historic heatwave in British Columbia with temperatures reaching 121 degrees.

Severe historic weather continued throughout 2021.

Three strong storms in April produced hail the size of baseballs and softballs in several cities in Texas and Oklahoma.

Spring brought dangerous flash floods in Texas and Louisiana. Instead of slow rain that soaks into the soil, we are getting violent downpours that wash away the soil and often cars and homes.

More than 93% of Western states are in a multi-year drought.

The federal government declared a water shortage on the Colorado River for the first time.  Lake Powell and Lake Mead fed by the Colorado River dropped to alarmingly low levels.

California’s Lake Oroville dropped so low that the hydroelectric power plant was shut down for the first time since it opened in the 1960s.

Summer brought a record-breaking triple-digit heatwave and severe drought fueled more than a hundred large wildfires in the West. 

The three largest fires of 2021 burned 1.6 million acres. The Dixie Fire in California charred nearly a million acres. The Bootleg Fire in southern Oregon scorched more than 410,000 acres. The Caldor Fire in California and Nevada torched the El Dorado National Forest.

High-level winds moved the smoke from the wildfires from the West Coast to the Northeast Coast.

 A historic heatwave in Washington State and Oregon with Seattle’s temperature rising to 108 degrees. Hundreds of people died from heat-related illnesses in Oregon and Washington.

In August, tropical cyclone Henri made landfall in Rhode Island and brought rainfall to New York City that set a record for August. Damage from Henri was estimated at $550 million.

August 29, Category 4 Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana destroyed homes, and cut off power to more than one million in Mississippi and Louisiana. The slow-moving storm produced huge amounts of rainfall that triggered flash flood emergencies in the Northeast. In NYC the remnants of Ida flooded the city’s transit system and the city’s sewer system was overrun. Damage to the transit system is estimated at $100 million or more. The total cost of Ida is estimated at $60 billion.  A total of 115 deaths contributed to Ida, with 95 of those deaths in the United States.

Also in August, Tennessee experienced an unusual amount of rain that led to flash flooding that destroyed more than 270 homes, washed-out roads, and killed 21 people

In December a historic long-track tornado ripped through 5 states. The cluster of tornadoes devastated entire towns and thousands of homes and killed 78 people in Kentucky, 5 in Tennessee, 6 in Illinois, 2 in Arkansas, and 2 in Missouri, according to the Associated Press. 

Wildfires are no longer just for the summer months.  A rare December wind-driven wildfire destroyed one thousand homes in an urban area of Boulder County, Colorado. . A snowstorm finally put out the fire.

Kodak Alaska had the highest December temperature ever recorded at 67 degrees.

Weather and climate disasters have cost the U.S. over $100 billion in 2021 and killed 538 people in the U.S., according to a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  This estimate is only through September 2021.

All of these disasters happened in 2021 in the USA, and even worse weather happened in other countries. Climate scientists believe this extreme weather is because of global warming and the continued use of fossil fuels and the deforestation of our forests.

Information on weather disasters came from numerous news outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, and The Weather Channel.

Vote Out Dinosaurs in Congress

Our representatives in Congress could slow down climate change if there was the political will but money stands in the way of clean energy. Open Secrets produced a list of all the people in congress and how much money they receive from the fossil fuel industry.

At the top of the list is Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.VA) who received $577,060 and House Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) who received $136,241 from the fossil fuel industry, according to Open Secrets.

Oil & Gas: Top Recipients | OpenSecrets

It is past time to vote out these entrenched fossil fuel dinosaurs in Congress who are indebted to or profiting from the fossil fuel industry and stop subsidizing the fossil fuel industry that is killing the planet. Vote for people who understand climate change is real and are willing to pass policies to get clean energy on the fast track.  

COP26 

The United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26, in 2021 was held in Glasgow, Scotland. Comments made at COP26 include 130 countries committing to end and reverse deforestation along with cutting methane emissions by 30% by the year 2030.

The United Nations Environment Programme says national plans to cut carbon pollution amount to weak promises, not yet delivered. The most up-to-date and ambitious plans from around 120 countries put the world on track to warm 2.7 Celsius, reported in https://phys.org/news/2021-10-latest-climate-worlds-15c.html

Greta Thunberg, the Swedish schoolgirl who sparked a worldwide climate change revolution, called COP26 a failure with many loopholes. She summed it up as a lot of “blah blah blah”.

Part I of a 3 Part Series on Climate Change

Written and Photo by Gloria Tatum

2 thoughts on “Climate Change Produced Extreme Weather In 2021

  1. As long as we have the rich’s and corporate money in politics all changes will be way to slow. Little hope for a livable future, folks. Add to that Americans’ global ignorance and political apathy we can know to where we are going…

    Like

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