Friday, July 8, 2016

Fort McMurray fire - most expensive natural disaster in Canadian history

abbreviations used

CO2 - carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas causing global warming
GW - global warming
GHG - greenhouse gas

          At 3.58 billion dollars the "beast" was the most expensive natural disaster in our history.

         The good news is that it is finally under control by firefighters.

         The bad news is that such extreme weather and climate (related) events will become more common in the future due to global warming caused by the release of excessive greenhouse gases (especially carbon dioxide and methane) by human economic activities: fossil fuel combustion and agriculture in particular. The term "excessive" is important in the above sentence. Nature constantly releases greenhouse gases (GHG). They cycle naturally through the planetary ecosystem. CO2, in particular, is essential for life: it is absorbed by geen plantes during photosynthesis to store solar energy in high energy molecules like sugars, starches, oils and fats. This energy is necessary for metabolic processes of all living organisms (even carnivores who capture the stored solar energy when they eat herbivores who ate plants). When food calories are burned (metabolism), the energy stored in energy rich molecules is released for metabolic work and CO2 is released back to the atmosphere, completing the cycle. The problem is rather with "excess GHG", chronic imbalances of GHG, occasionned by human activities: farming, transport, heating, manufacturing.. 

          And things aren't getting better, rather worse.. 

          Among other things, we should expect higher insurance rates in the future to cover the costs of more frequent extreme weather events. In some floodplains, rates will have to be jacked up significantly to cover rising risks of flood. In others, new building will simply be prohibited.

           Global warming (GW) causes seawater to expand (thermal expansion) flooding low lying coastal zones. This problem is made worse by glacial melt: the Greenland icesheet meltdown, for example. 

           And both of these problems, thermal expansion of seawater and glacial melt, aggravate storm surge flooding of low lying coastal zones.


              Rising sea levels will, in coming decades, produce climate refugees fleeing insland. Rehousing these folk will cost money (and energy) - and where to put them in an already overpopulated, crowded world running out of cheap energy? Not so obvious..

              On a (classical) Elemental analysis level, on could say our world is suffering from a general excess of Fire with local imbalances of Water (either too much or not enough). 

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