Devastating weather systems have been ripping through various parts of the United States. Night after relentless night of tornadoes and thunderstorms have ravaged parts of the South. A late April Blizzard created hazardous road conditions in the Northern Plains. Floods tormented people on the East Coast. Texas struggles to survive the worst drought they’ve experienced in 45 years. There were even tornado warnings in California, with at least one actually touching down.
Across the world things aren’t looking much better. Sri Lanka is experiencing extreme rains and flooding. People are being left homeless after massive flooding in Brazil. Flooding in Saudi Arabia, cyclones in New Zealand… and that’s not even counting the devastating Earthquakes which, while not technically a meteorological phenomenon, certainly fit into the category of devastating.
So, what the heck is going on? Is all of this a fluke? Or is this something we can expect to see continue?
According to some scientists, the answer is yes. But not because of global warming. An article in Life Science suggests that a confluence of seasonal oscillations in weather patterns, rather than climate change, is to blame. Researchers say that we will likely see more casualties from extreme weather, because populations are becoming more dense, hence, more people are in harm’s way.httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9M_mcOL99qA&feature=player_embedded#at=43 Terrifying amateur footage of Alabama tornado.
Some are also suggesting that these bizarre weather patterns can be blamed at least in part on our magnetic poles shifting. An interesting 2007 article from The Economist suggests as much. And it also points out that in addition to Earth weather, the pole shift will affect space weather, which plays a huge role in satellites and radio communications…. possibly even power grids.
The United Nations is also saying that extreme weather is the “new normal”. According to an article on South Asia’s OneWorld.net (cue creepy music), Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction Margareta Wahlstrom said of the $1 billion in economic damages to Australia after their devastating flooding earlier this year, “With weather patterns becoming more unpredictable and extreme, costs of this magnitude may become commonplace in all parts of the world unless we urgently change the way we think about and react to disasters.”
So, what do we make of all of this? I have to admit that the first thing that springs to mind is the 2000 Whitley Strieber/Art Bell book The Coming Global Superstorm, of which I have a copy. I haven’t read it in years. The back cover of the book says:
Over several months, a potent succession of cold fronts will sweep across the world. Ever increasing in intensity and duration, damaging storms will batter the West Coast of the United States and spawn flooding, mudslides and severe, deadly tornadoes across the US.
Similar powerful storms will pummel Europe, sending millions streaming south in panic.
Then meteorologists from the National Weather Service will issue their most severe warning yet, a storm that appears to be larger and more terrible than modern man has seen before. It forms a virtually non-stop hurricane of snow and ice that begins to bury the Northern Hemisphere under an impenetrable sheet of frost. As the weeks go by, the skies will remain turbulent and dark, and mankind will be thrust into its greatest peril.
The book, which mixes fact and speculation with terrifying drama, was used as a reference for the 2004 film The Day After Tomorrow. How much of the warning contained within is worth heeding, and how much is speculative? I’d say about 50/50. The book does rely heavily on the notion of man made Global Warming, which yours truly has slowly begun to move away from. But the basic premise of a climate catastrophe that leads us smack into a new Ice Age is not something that mainstream science necessarily dismisses. And… it has happened before.
There is also the book Not by Fire but by Ice: Discover What Killed the Dinosaurs…and Why It Could Soon Kill Us… which makes the same claim. Rather than roasting to death, we’re more likely to enter into a deep freeze. Those who espouse this theory have varying degrees of severity in mind. Some say it will be reminiscent of the “Little Ice Age” of the 16th and 17th centuries, while others say it could be an extinction level event.
What to do… what to believe? I tend to think that the answer lies somewhere in the middle. Certainly, we cannot deny that things are changing. The magnitude and the immediate cause are up for debate. What do you think? Will the world of our future resemble An Inconvenient Truth or The Day After Tomorrow? Or perhaps neither is right. Maybe this is all just a cycle, and we’ll get back to “normal” before things get to a catastrophic level. I want to hear your thoughts.
****This article previously contained an image of a Time magazine cover predicting a coming Ice Age. It was brought to our attention that the image was photoshopped… so we’ve removed it.