Denying the obvious.

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Climate change is not a theory, but a scientific fact with nearly as much evidence to back it up as the existence of gravity.  Scientists and climatologists aren’t stupid or deluded.  They have spent years studying geology, climatology, oceanography, and meteorology.   Climate change isn’t a conspiracy theory dreamed up by George Soros, China, or “the left.”   It’s not God punishing us for homosexuality or abortion (some right wing evangelicals actually believe this, but there isn’t even a logical connection between natural disasters and sinful behavior so their “argument” is no more than superstition).  Climate change is a real thing, and we would be wise to heed the experts and not right wing politicians and conspiracy theorists who continue to deny what’s right in front of them.

Climate deniers like Trump remind me of my deceased mother in law, a malignant narcissist who lied about things that were obvious to everyone else, and then, when she was shown evidence that she was wrong, instead of admitting her folly, continued to deny the obvious and even double down on her “beliefs.”     I remember a year or so after I got married, my husband and I moved into the first floor of her two family house in New Jersey.   It was an older house, and hadn’t been maintained well, and unbenownst to us, it was infested with termites.

One spring day, we had a massive swarm. Flying termites were literally coming out of the walls and oozing out of every corner.   They were dropping their wings all over the living room floor.   There must have been hundreds or even thousands of them.   I was terrified and felt like throwing up.   I called my mother in law down to look and begged her to hire a pest control company.   But not wanting to take any responsibility, she denied the termites were even there.    She said they weren’t termites, they were “bugs” caused by “dirt.”   We weren’t dirty people, but she was trying to blame us, saying if we were “cleaner people” there would be no bugs (especially since they hadn’t invaded her upstairs living quarters).

She reacted the same way when the basement washing machine broke.   It was 20 years old, and bound to break eventually, but she said we broke it because we shouldn’t have been mixing different colored clothing in the same wash.   Yeah, I know what you’re thinking.  How does mixing colors cause a washing machine to break?  It doesn’t.    It was a lie she made up to blame us.

Trump’s behavior toward the people of California when he finally went there to survey the damage caused by the wildfires reminded me so much of my mother in law.   Instead of showing empathy to the people and offering help and temporary FEMA shelters to people left homeless by the fires, he tried to blame Californians, chiding them for “not raking” the forest floors.    Raking forest floors to prevent fires makes about as much sense as not mixing colors to prevent washing machine breakdowns, or dirt causing termite infestations.    Malignant narcissists, instead of admitting they may have been wrong, double down in their convictions,  and if they have to, they will concoct the most outrageous and ridiculous lies to “back up” their ludicrous claims.

Recently, a climate report by an independent and scientific agency came out, and it contained an alarming warning:  if we don’t stop our use of fossil fuels immediately, our planet’s weather will continue to worsen, with more severe and frequent hurricanes and other devastating storms, more frequent and damaging wildfires like the one that continues to rage in California, and eventually the ice caps will melt, completely changing the outlines of our coasts and submerging vulnerable landmasses like Florida and coastal cities like New York.   The Gulf Stream, which warms western Europe (which otherwise would be as cold as Canada and the northern US due to those countries’ high latitude) would be disrupted, and those countries could be plunged into deep freeze.

I could go on about all the changes but there are way too many to name here, and most of them would be devastating to life on this planet.

Yet Trump and his supporters continue to deny climate change, calling it a conspiracy theory, a “Chinese hoax,” and a left wing anticapitalist plot.    They see how bad the weather has been in recent years, with terrible and frequent hurricanes, wildfires like we’ve never seen, long droughts, flooding rains, the destruction of crops, much warmer winters than have ever been normal, and generally,  strange and severe weather that’s atypical for its location and latitude.

Trump thinks that because it happens to snow somewhere, or temperatures are colder than average on a given day, that means “global warming” is a hoax.   The term “global warming” has fallen out of favor (even though average temperatures are in fact rising) because the outcome of climate change doesn’t always mean hotter temperatures, even though over the long term, the earth is warming.  The preferred term is now climate change, because it takes into account the fact that a warming planet can cause every kind of severe weather, even bitterly cold temperatures.

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A good example of how this can happen is the Gulf Stream (which I already mentioned earlier), a current of warm tropical water that originates in the Gulf of Mexico and crosses the Atlantic, moving to the northeast, warming up northern and coastal Europe. The warming effect gives countries at high latitudes (Ireland is at the same latitude as Labrador!) much warmer weather than they would otherwise have.   If the Gulf Stream were to become disrupted (and the melting of the ice caps and rising sea levels would certainly do that), those countries will become much colder.   Yet it’s because the planet is warming, a chain of events started by the melting of the ice caps which would turn the entire Atlantic colder for a time.

*****

Further reading (please read, it is important):

A Grave Climate Warning, Published on Black Friday 

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My worst nightmare.

I’m a natural worrywart.   A few days ago, when Irma was still out in the middle of the Atlantic and Harvey was still the #1 topic, I wrote a post about being worried that Irma might hit my son, who lives in the Tampa Bay area.   My rational mind told me I was probably just catastrophizing, because I tend to do that.  I mean, what were the chances the eyewall of this storm, would actually go right over him?  It really didn’t seem all that likely.

But I couldn’t shake the bad feeling I had.   I have good intuition, but my intuition tends to get mixed up with my tendency to catastrophize everything, and it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference.  As a result, my intuition doesn’t always work very well, since I get “bad vibes” even about things that pose no danger.

This time, my intuition was accurate.   As the days passed since I wrote that post,  Irma appears to be doing exactly what I prayed it wouldn’t do.   Like a sadistic narcissist, this bitch has been teasing me and giving false hope — she moved to the east for awhile and looked like she was going to head up the Atlantic, sparing the Tampa area from the worst of the storm.   I was able to relax a bit and laugh at myself for having been so worried.

But yesterday she shifted back to the west.  Unless a miracle happens, she will be skirting up the western coast of Florida, with the eyewall passing directly over my son’s area.  It won’t have weakened too much by the time the worst of it hits late Sunday night or early Monday morning — at best it might be a category 3 hurricane, which is still pretty bad.

My son is in some ways his father’s son.   He lacks his dad’s narcissism and lack of empathy or conscience, but he definitely has his stubborness.    I’ve been begging him to evacuate and drive up here until the danger passes.   He said he didn’t have gas money.  I told him not to worry about money and that I would provide anything he would need, but his answer was no.  He’s determined to stay and ride this thing out.  Now it’s too late for him to evacuate even if he decided to finally do so (which I know he won’t).   The roads going north are bumper to bumper and there is no gas to be had.

I think there is another reason for his decision to stay besides his stubborness.   Since he was a small boy, he’s always been fascinated by storms.   When he was in his early teens, he flirted with the idea of being a tornado chaser.  He used to watch all those Weather Channel shows about brave men and women who put themselves in the paths of dangerous tornadoes just for the adrenaline rush and to take videos of them for the rest of us more faint-hearted people to marvel at.

So I think he sees this as the opportunity of a lifetime, an adventure like no other, a dream come true for any fan of severe weather who is a bit of an adrenaline junkie too.  He wants to have a story to tell, a story that few others will be able to tell.   It’s like being a fighter pilot in World War II and or having climbed Mount Everest.   “I was in Hurricane Irma back in ’17,” is something that will definitely get people’s attention.

My son is not going into this blind.   He has been tracking this storm, paying attention to the warnings and evacuation orders, has gotten all the supplies he needs, and has chosen to leave his apartment (which is in the storm surge zone) and go slightly inland to a sturdy one story brick home where he will be riding Irma out with about 9 of his friends (it’s still in Tampa though).   They are well prepared and he tells me they are not in an area prone to storm surge or flooding.

But this hurricane is a beast, and who knows what havoc she will bring?  Irma is unpredictable, and not like any other hurricane.  Even if my son and his friends are safe from storm surge, they are not safe from the furious winds, which will be around 100-112 mph as the eyewall passes over them.   More than anything, I am glad he is not alone.  But I’m still terrified for him.

Please keep my son and his friends in your prayers.

Tropical Storm Colin to hit Gulf coast of Florida

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My son lives in New Port Richey, Florida, which is right in the projected path of Tropical Storm Colin, which is due to make landfall later tonight. My son’s a bit of an adrenaline junkie (he wanted to be a stormchaser when he was younger) so hopefully he stays inside. He took this photo driving home. There were a few others, but I couldn’t upload them.

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A close call.

My friend (and commenter on this blog) Alaina lives in Eastern New Mexico, where the prairie meets the desert. Severe storms and tornadoes are a common occurrence in her part of the country in the spring. She sent me these unbelievable pictures on Twitter. I am including her words in the captions of this incredible moment. I would have been so scared I doubt I could have held the camera steady, or even had the presence of mind to take photos at all!

While driving in eastern NM last week we saw this storm tracker beside the road watching the sky…..

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…We drove to a nearby truck stop. I got out of the car and took pictures of the storm cloud…

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Suddenly a wall of dust and debris was whirling all around us!

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We were standing directly under a supercell, inside the vortex of a weak mesocyclone approx. 200′ wide!

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It looked & sounded scarier than my pics show. Wish I’d switched to video~dramatic high plains weather!

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I would say Alaina was very lucky! But what a fantastic opportunity to take some amazing photos.