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January-February 2018

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From the Editor

As I write this, the north Bay of San Francisco is being ravaged by wildfires feeding on grasses dried out by months of no rain and spurred on by extremely low humidity and high winds. The deadly fires have burned thousands of structures, left many dead and many more homeless, and there is no end in sight. As of today, the fires were no more than 3% contained.

The devastation in California follows on the heels of the destruction in Puerto Rico, Texas, and Florida as we near the tail end of one of the worst hurricane seasons in memory. The scope of the devastation is almost beyond description, and there just doesn't seem to be enough aid getting where it needs to go. Puerto Rico faces the prospect of months without power or adequate shelter for its inhabitants, even as the specters of disease and shortages of food and clean become reality.

And these are just the natural disasters that have hit the United States. In Nepal, India, and Bangladesh, some 1,200 people have lost their lives in devastating floods. All of these events have occurred just in the last two months.Although no one can be certain, it would be foolish to say that climate change was not responsible for at least part of the devastation we are currently seeing. The Earth is angry, and we as humans are paying the price of hundreds of years of carelessness with our planet.

And yet even as all these disasters unfold, the administration of Donald Trump has announced its intention to withdraw from the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement and to eliminate the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which was intended to limit carbon emissions from the electric grid. The United States government is, in effect, bowing out of efforts to reverse or mitigate the effects of climate change for the foreseeable future, leaving such actions in the hands of other countries.

The potential consequences of such (in)actions are terrifying. We are seeing the effects of climate change every day now, if not in our own backyards, then in daily media headlines. Weatherwise's annual summaries alone provide fodder for concern: every summer and every calendar year is, on average, hotter than the one before and hotter than any experienced since records began. What will it take for us to realize, as a species, that our actions have consequences that might be irreversible if we delay our response any longer?

Although Weatherwise is a magazine about the weather and not about climate change, I feel it is important that we use our voice to call for action where it is needed and implore our leaders to heed Mother Nature's warnings. She is calling out to us and her message is clear: Help her, before it is too late.

Aerial view of smoke from the 2017 fires in Napa and Sonoma Counties, California, viewed from near the south end of Lake Berryessa, nearest to the Atlas fire and looking toward the Nuns fire.

 

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