Thursday, January 04, 2007

Xtreem Weather

While the nearly-snowless winter here in Minnesota is a painful experience, I'm actually rather interested in the reality of global warming, if only for the way it seems to be reversing a main theme in recent human history (since, say, the Sumerians): increasing control over nature. Our capacity to manage (alter, improve, damage) the environment has been amplified in the last 400 or so years, and especially in the last 100 years, thanks partly to good old petroleum. But now we seem to be on the verge of losing not only the measure of control we've gained over millennia, but much more. And the worst of it is that we don't know much about how warmer air and water temperatures are going to mess with everything else. Chaos will reign, even under the most benign global-warming scenarios.

In a recent article in New York magazine, the ubiquitous science-and-tech writer (and blogger) Clive Thompson examines how this chaos might affect New York over the next half-decade and beyond. It ain't pretty. Thompson argues that the city is likely to suffer more severe hurricanes, heavy coastal flooding, hotter heat waves, snowier blizzards, and - of course - trillions of dollars in property damage.

If you're interested in how our crazy winter might matter in the grand scheme of things, read the article. It made me glad to live in a flat place far from the oceans.