George Ritzer, Introduction to Sociology. Sage, 2013.
Chapter 14, Page 585
Extreme Weather around the World
An overwhelming body of scientific research over a long period of time and covering many parts of the world shows that the global climate has changed and that it is likely to change even more dramatically in the foreseeable future (National Research Council, 2011). As a result, the vast majority of scientists believe that we are in the early stages of global warming that is going to lead to a number of different kinds of weather extremes in various parts of the world (Field, 2012). These extremes, as well as climate change in general, are likely to have increasingly negative effects on life throughout the world. The impact is going to vary in different parts of the world, but in many the effect is going to be negative if not catastrophic. Those who doubt this, and are dubious about global warming, were likely shocked by the extreme weather patterns throughout much of the world in 2012 and which continued into early 2013. While these could have been aberrations, they are consistent with various weather extremes that have occurred for decades, especially throughout the first decade of the 21st century. It is likely that these extremes foreshadow what we can expect in the future. Among them are the following (Lyall, 2013):
- 2012 was the hottest year in the recorded history in the United States
- Rio de Janeiro reached a temperature of 109.8 degrees in late 2012- the highest since records began in 1915; the heat wave continued in Brazil into 2013
- The same was true of a heat wave in Australia which followed two of its wettest years in its history; 2013 began in Sydney with the first days of the year being among its 20 hottest days in recorded history; since the 1950s every decade in Australia has been hotter than the preceding one
- At the same time, the Middle East experienced extreme cold which brought, among many other stunning weather events, a highly unusual storm dumping eight inches of snow on Jerusalem
- Extreme cold gripped Siberia and China, among other places
- The northeastern coast of United States was struck by a devastating hurricane that wreaked havoc on many areas, especially New York City and the Jersey shore
- England has a had a variety of weather extremes with 2012 being the wettest year in its history resulting in, among other things, floods in various places; London experienced unusually heavy snowfall in early 2013
A resident of England summed up the feelings of many in the country, as well as in many other parts of the world, about these new weather realities: “’We don’t expect extremes. We don’t expect it to be like this’” (Lyall, 2013: A10). It seems clear that in the future we will all need to learn to expect the unexpected as far as weather is concerned as well as the need to learn how to deal with it as best we can. Of course, what we most need to do is to change the various ways in which humans are serving as the major cause of these climate changes.
Field, Christopher. Testimony of Christopher B. Field before
United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works
on Update on the Latest Climate Change Science.
Washington, DC, August 2012.
Lyall, Sarah. “Heat, Flood or Icy Cold, Extreme Weather Rages Worldwide.” New York Times January 11, 2013: A4, A10.
National Research Council. America’s Climate Choices. National Academies Press, Washington DC., 2011.