Crappy summer weather?

August was more like November for many across Canada, while the U.S. South was battered by heavy storms, with more to come.

But it isn’t just “bad weather”. Two scientists from the UK and the U.S. have published a paper in the journal “Science” showing extreme rainfall events are increasing – and they are caused by global warming.

Whenever you hear the phrase “record rain” on TV, or in the newspapers – pay attention. In this program I’ve collected reports on crazy rainfall events in many parts of the world – just this summer. Many towns and cities in North America, for example, broke records for rainfall in 24 hours, set in the 1800’s. Local drainage and sewer systems can’t handle it – our infrastructure was not built for the new extreme rain.

The physics is so simple. Warmer air holds more moisture. As the world warms, even slightly, and as the oceans warm – more moisture goes up into the atmosphere.

Naturally, rain continues to fall where rain usually falls, while dry areas can get even drier. So the excess rain comes down by the barrel load. Cape Canaveral got a record 22 inch drowning in 24 hours. Some places got several inches of rain in an hour.

This is happening all over the world, and I think it’s one of the under-reported climate stories of the year. Yes we saw pictures of Myanmar (Burma) after a tropical storm wiped out millions of people. That was part wind, part storm surge off the ocean, but also a lot of rain.

And remember, just after the horrible Earth Quake in southern China, and several times since, that area was drenched in unbelievable rain events. Just next door, in Vietnam, same thing. In fact all the countries of the Mekong have been flooding from heavy rains.

Heavy rains, which the UN authorities blame on global warming, also caused a river in Nepal to burst, leading to massive flooding in the Northern India state of Bihar.

We’ve heard a lot about the threat of rising seas. Now it’s time to look at the new climate guest at our doors: extreme rainfall events.

Ooops – I forgot our main event for this Radio Ecoshock Show: George Monbiot. He’s a constant columnist in the UK newspaper the Guardian, and a long-time activist against expanded roads, airports, and coal burning. George is also the author of the best-selling book “Heat, How to Stop the Planet Burning” – and now a new book called “Bring on the Apocalypse.”

George tells us about the new book. The interview ranges from carbon rationing through global justice all the way to his ideas on eco-incarnation. Monbiot also rates the U.S. Presidential candidates. Don’t miss this interview. George doesn’t fool around. He loads every answer with strong points, things we need to know and do.

I wrap up with a kind of “where we stand” piece. The situation. How we face it.

We also showcase an old song that most of you don’t know: “A Good Planet Is Hard to Find” by Steve Forbert. It’s catchy, almost soothing our worries.

Next week: Dr. Peter Ward, author of “Under the Green Sky” talks about past mass extinctions, and whether we are headed for a new one. We’ll also chat with Peak Oil specialist Julian Darley. Julian was way ahead of us on oil and gas decline – he founded the Post Carbon Institute to look at life after oil.

We’re back for another hard-hitting season – and thanks for the encouragement I’ve been receiving by email from a lot of loyal listeners.

Hopefully, we’ll also come up with more possible solutions this Fall – along with the horror of our times.

Alex Smith
Radio Ecoshock