It's odd to be enjoying such extraordinary weather (around 87F and 34% humidity - the locals say it's unusually hot) in the Pacific Northwest while reading about the Gulf Coast and the impact of Hurricane Harvey. Watching the intense rain on the Doppler radar makes me more aware than usual how large our country is. Hundreds of thousands of people are suffering in a catastrophic, record breaking storm, while the Northwest is slightly warmer than usual and pleasantly dry.
I have been reading a fascinating book titled "Economic Risks of Climate Change" led by the academic team of Houser, Hsiang, Koop and Larsen. With expertise in both climate change and economics, this book is the first compendium of research that assesses economic risks by applying climate modeling to economic forecasting. Although the information is specific to the US, the research methods show wider promise for global applications. In its current form, this research gives us some insight as to how climate stresses may impact local economies in the coming decades at a level as granular as regions, states - and in some cases - even counties.
Apparently the Southeast will be the most impacted region in terms of heat increases (measured by wet bulb increase, which includes both temperature and humidity) and sea level rise off the Gulf Coast. This will impact industry as it becomes dangerous to work outside (think about construction, highway infrastructure and farming), and agriculture as some crops - notably corn and soybeans - may experience reduced yields. Correspondingly, the Northeast will see increases in wet bulb temperature and general levels of precipitation, as well as sea level rise. But oddly, the Northwest won't experience as much sea level rise, nor much wet bulb temperature increase, although average heat temperature may increase somewhat. And it is likely to rain less in the Northwest, which for a few decades at least will have the interesting impact of making the region more pleasant.
It seems that many people who live in the Northwest are already aware they live in Nirvana. I wonder, though, as economies are stressed further south, if there will be increasing population pressures on the area that won't be appreciated by those who live here.
I will be attending a Climate Reality training in Pittsburg in mid-October of this year. I hope to meet other activists interested in creative approaches to achieving change in energy systems and values that coming climate crises will necessitate. I respect Al Gore, and appreciate that he seems to recognize we need a social movement for climate that matches the fierce passion the civil rights movement both required and engendered. Yet, he also seems to think we can address our environmental crises through established channels. I no longer think this is the case, although like many law abiding citizens, I have to push myself to be confrontational with authority.
My brother Steve Chase, who works for the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict, recently published a review on their website that I find helpful. You can find it here.
The pictures below were all taken at Jerrel Cove State Park on Harstine Island about 40 miles from Seattle. Because I've been having some problems with my bike computer, I don't have an accurate record of maps to share. Perhaps I can do this on my way back from Seattle to Portland. In any case, I'm having lots of fun.