Sunday, August 24, 2008

アメリカと温暖化  America and Global Warming

It is slowly nearing the end of August. This summer has again been an ordeal of sweltering hot days, with extreme thunderstorms and flooding. And every year, it gets worse.


Japanese people are quite aware of extreme weather, and that it is connected to Global Warming. Yet Americans refuse to believe in Global Warming. Well Americans do understand that it is happening, but they will not look at how serious it is. If you discuss the increase of severe weather with Americans, they almost always say that it is a cycle, and will eventually return to normal. Many Americans feel that Global Warming may have some effect in 300 years or more, but not now.


I don’t think so. Well we all know that Japan is getting stronger severe storms, and more of them. Let us take a look at what is happening in America.


As a person who has grown up in America, I have noticed two great changes in weather patterns.

私は子供時代をアメリカで育って 、アメリカの天候型に二つの大きい変化を分かっています。

One is the American Midwestern states have been getting much wetter, and that the American southeast has been getting much drier. I have been watching this event ever week for the last 18 months, and the trend is unmistakable. It is happening.

I believe the cause is the city of Atlanta. Atlanta is a large sprawl of a city covering a wide area. What used to be forest and farmland has now become asphalt parking lots, and shopping malls with black tar roofs. This entire area has become a heat island. This heat island creates a huge mass of hot air, and this air mass pushes rain to the south in the Gulf of Mexico. The rain then swings around the Atlanta heat island and up the Mississippi valley, where it rains heavily in the Midwestern states.


Normally the American southeast is a very wet region. It is covered by many farms and forest. Now it is drying out. Last year, the Okefenokee Swamp, along the state border of Georgia and Florida, had major fires. It was too dry. This was a dangerous warning sign, yet it did not receive much coverage in the American media.


The city of Atlanta Georgia has only one major lake, Lake Lanier, as a water source. Year by year, its level its average level is dropping greatly. This year, water use restrictions, for example no swimming pools, car washing, or watering of lawns, were set by the city government. Yet the people of Atlanta complained loudly, and the restrictions were lifted.

ジョージア州アトランタ市の分水嶺で、一つの大きい湖しか水源地が有りません。毎年、標準の水平がだんだん低く成っています。今年アトランタ市政府は水利用制限を作りました。例えば、泳ぎ専用プール、芝生に水かけ、洗車は、全部禁止でした。しかし、市民の方が文句をいっぱい出して、市政府に制限を諦めさせました 。

But the lake level continues to drop.


In the Midwest, there is now flooding every year. In 1993 and this year 2008, the flooding was very serious. Those years were called 150-year floods, meaning we have floods like that only every 150 years. We have now had two floods like that only 13 years apart.

中央平原で、毎年洪水が有ります。1993年と2008年の洪水は特にひどかったです。アメリカでは、こう言う洪水は150年洪水と呼びます。その意味は、普段こう言う洪水が150年おきしか現れません。 現在は、13年おきです。

The basic weather patterns have changed for the North American continent. In my opinion, the American southeast is changing from natural forestland suitable for extensive agriculture, to a desert climate. Most of the people now living there will have to move. The American southeast has no infrastructure to move a large amount of water from one area to another. In any case, the entire region is short of water.


The American southwest on the other hand does have a very extensive infrastructure to move water. There are many canals and aqueducts. In fact, Los Angeles draws some of its water from aquifers as far as 1,500 kilometers away, from the Ogallala aquifer across the Rocky Mountains.


The American Southwest is natural desert. There are even plans to move water from the Great Lakes region, over 2,500 kilometers away. This is because water sources in the American southwest are being over stressed by the increasing population, and disappearing because of global warming.


Of course, the Great Lakes region is against the idea.


America has had a very luxurious life style since World War II. Everybody wants a nice big house with a swimming pool, and several cars to drive. Yet this is no longer possible. I have not been to Las Vegas, but I have seen photos. Many of the hotels have large pools for decoration only. Many others have large pools for swimming parties. And of course large fountains.


Las Vegas is natural deep desert. There is no water there naturally. In the near future, Las Vegas will have to drastically change its life style. As will all the people in Arizona and Los Angeles. Swimming pools at the very least will disappear.

ラスヴェガスは 自然に深い砂漠です。自然に、水は全然有りません。近い将来に、ラスヴェガスに住んでいる人達の生活は、大きい変化が有るでしょう。アリゾナ州とロサンゼルスの生活も変わります。少なくても、プールは無く成るでしょう。

The southeast in my opinion can still be saved from turning to desert. Roof gardens and water absorbent pavement will do a lot to help reduce the heat island effect of Atlanta. Even growing vines over parking lots could be a big help. But until the Atlanta heat island is reduced, rain will not naturally return to the American southeast. And then the southeast has a high possibility of turning into a desert that cannot be inhabited by human beings.


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