As the strongest hurricane ever recorded lands on Mexico’s pacific coast, California hunkers down for a winter of ‘El Nino.’ For those unfamiliar with the Spanish term meaning ‘the child,’ El Nino years produce wet, windy and warm winters – something California desperately needs even as Hurricane Patricia borne mud slides destroy entire towns in the Mexican states of Nuevo Leone and Puerta Vallarta.
In opposition to El Nino, the region alternately experiences Los Ninos years – ‘The Children’ – a dry condition exemplified by the dust bowl effect devastating that region since January 2013 when the state recorded the least rainfall on record.
While questions of global warming continue – the U.S. blames human impacts – California droughts are legion over the last 1000 years.
The present parching is slight compared to the 1930′s dust bowl which in turn was only blip if held against the 260 year long dry season beginning in 850 A.D. Just 50 years after that ended, another 160 year drought’s record shows in razor thin tree rings – a useful measure of yearly rainfall for periods antedating modern climatology.
Whether man or natural cycles is responsible for crisis low water in America’s west remains a highly contested question even as plans to increase energy taxation – and the cost of living in general – are implemented worldwide.
In a more intuitive turn, the Union for Concerned Scientists posits a combination of both natural and man-made effects best explains the present warm dry trend – little comfort to Americans soon to pay by-the-mile to drive on our nations highways.
While crumbling roads may better explain the need to raise cash, Americans can be sure that energy prices will only go up and weather will continue to be crazy as we enter yet another year of increasing storms that mark the 21st century’s opening decades. No matter the cause, the new normal has already indelibly changed lives as it ravages the North American landscape.
Casting further doubt on man-made impacts, planetologists note melting trends on diverse worlds Mars and Pluto occurring in parallel to Earths receding polar ice. The record solar minimum of 2008 and 9 where sunspot activity dropped to unheard of lows now gives way to new, if tepid solar maximum. The cycle, which disappeared completely for 70 years in the 17th century, is said to occur in 11 year periods though nothing is completely predictable about our sun’s activity.
If all this leaves you confused, join the club. Economic forces more than any proven science appear to foster much present disagreement. The intersection of big business and university based research science, long a source of bias charges, castes doubts on any one conclusion in the as yet unexplained global warming crisis. In a final emphasis of the confusion, USA Today reports on November 4, 2015 that Antarctic ice appears to be growing – part of a 10,000 year trend – yet it also melting and that in 60 years, that process may become unstoppable. One study author questions the conclusions of another to leave us without any firm conclusion save there is no agreement on a global warming issue destined to raise your cost of living.