Extreme Weather on the Horizon: Failure to Curb Greenhouse Effects Could Lead to Environmental Catastrophe. (Environment)

The Futurist, July-August 2002 | Go to article overview

Extreme Weather on the Horizon: Failure to Curb Greenhouse Effects Could Lead to Environmental Catastrophe. (Environment)


Summers are growing hotter, deserts are becoming dryer, coastal regions are in danger of being submerged, storms are turning increasingly deadly. And there may be a lot more violent weather in our future if steps are not taken soon to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere, warns journalist Bob Reiss in his new book, The Coming Storm.

"With doubled [CO.sub.2] in the atmosphere from preindustrial times, a possibility predicted by the year 2030, oceans could rise due to melting polar ice and thermal expansion (the process that makes water rise in a boiling pot)," Reiss writes. "The size and intensity of hurricanes would increase. Since heat evaporates water, and evaporating water returns to earth as rain, areas prone to flooding would suffer more of it under a heightened greenhouse effect. Drier areas like the Great Plains or the sub-Saharan region of Africa would become more susceptible to drought."

The result could be catastrophic in its toll on human life as well as the monetary costs associated with such disasters. We have already witnessed growing destruction, exemplified by drought and death in Sudan, flooding in Asia, brush fires in Indonesia, and fierce winter storms in central Europe.

The weather in 1998-the hottest year on record-shattered all kinds of temperature records. In China, 240 million people were affected when the Yangtze River flooded after severe rains, killing some 2,000 people and leaving 14 million homeless. In Central America, Hurricane Mitch, a "500-year storm," killed 11,000 people, according to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. …

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