Weird Weather

November 10, 2019

It’s time to talk medicane.   Google and autocorrect think I want to talk about medicine, but really its medicanes and weather in general.  Mediterranean hurricanes.   The image that you see above of those circulating winds are not officially a medicane yet I don’t think as the winds are not moving fast enough, but it certainly isn’t much fun either if you are at sea.

I am waiting for a ship to arrive.  Crap!

Really though, the ship I am waiting for just arrived in Malta this morning so is well south of that weather pattern for the moment, but the storm is expected to head south over the next two days and will probably be right on top of the ship I am waiting for just as it starts its journey to Palma.

This brings up two points.   First off is climate change.   I seem to have friends that are either completely oblivious to the human impact on climate change, or are so deeply engrossed in the topic that it has become a religion.

During the election I had a friend running for office with the PPC party and began subtly knocking the alarmists (in general and Greta Thunberg specifically), and I can’t help but wonder when both sides are going to realize that this is bigger than most people think.  While banning reusable plastics would be a good step, that’s not going to do enough.   Further, even if we could stop the increasing temperatures, it won’t stop climate change.

The climate has been changing for millions of years.  We know that Alberta was once a rainforest.  It was also covered with ice in the last ice age.   Both of those things happened before humans began combusting materials of any sort for industrial purposes.

Second off, we have clear and definitive evidence that humans are causing the current changes to happen more rapidly than ever before in recorded history.   (As usual, caveats are helpful here.  If the dinosaurs were indeed wiped out by a meteorite, that atmospheric change happened MUCH quicker than what we are doing now.   The downside is, we have a good idea how that turned out.   Most living species were wiped off the planet.)

Before I get to the storm hammering my boat currently, I would like to leave you with one very broad idea.   Anyone older than 50 is not likely to have to deal with significant repercussions of climate change.   We will likely be dead before our kids really understand the implications of this massive change.   We can nitpick about plastic bottles and electric cars and coal vs. gas.   These are all worthy debates and change is inevitable, but if you really want to get people to think about consequences, it might be helpful to consider what will be able to live on earth when those changes become irreversible. (Another hint here, small creatures, particularly bugs and reptiles do very well, mammals, especially tall ones are not so lucky, if history is a guide).

As I am typing this there is a massive hail storm raining down on the boat.  It is coming from the outer band of that weather system you see above.   Very weird here in the Med as I understand it and a sign that there is a mini polar vortex overtop of those winds.

Massive hail at the dock in Palma

Medicanes are very rare, but this is the second one this year which seems odd.  At the same time the scientist in me tells me that you can’t make judgements from small data sets.    Earlier today I read a review of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season and the author (an authority on hurricanes) made the assessment that this year was very odd with two category 5 storms, and a whole bunch of minor hurricanes that were further North than usual and dissipated quickly.   But that too, shouldn’t be taken as some ominous sign of climate change.   Hurricane season happens every year and there is frequently something odd happening, but over many decades patterns emerge.

One story I love to tell is the story of our trip to France in 2003.   There was a heat wave gripping France that summer, and Jinhee and the kids joined me for a vacation as I was set to ride Paris-Brest-Paris (a 1200km bike ride in 90 hours or less).   They almost cancelled the ride because it was just so hot.   But they didn’t and we went ahead.     During that event most people ride for 20-22 hours at a time over three days, and I remember stopping at 4am somewhere in Western France to try and get some food and a couple of hours of sleep.   The temperature when I stopped was reportedly 6C.   It was closer to 40C when I started.   That was weird.   That was 16 years ago.

What many don’t know, is that event was one of the deadliest months in French history outside of wartime.   About 13,000 people in France died from heat related issues and 30,000 people in Europe.   Mostly very old people.   Global warming will winnow us out subtly at first, but weather, either temperatures, hurricanes, tornadoes or perhaps fires and drought will get to more and more of us.   Perhaps recent events will be proven to be more than just ‘a little weird’ in the not too distant future.

Us old folks will likely be long dead before the real difficulties show up due to climate change.   At least in the middle latitudes.  Keep fighting kids.   It’s going to be on your shoulders.

I admit I do get caught up in arcane aspects of life because I have too much time on my hands and that is particularly true right now.   My ship has NOT come in.  It has just arrived in Malta this morning and has two days of loading work to do there.   It is then scheduled to head here by Wednesday . . . but that Medicane looks like it may be running right over top of it.

Cranes have to stop lifting loads in high winds, and captains sometimes stay in port when bad weather is forecast.  I am losing confidence that the weather will be in my favour and that I will likely be here for even longer.   Oh well.

I have had some time to ride the bike earlier this week.  There are some pictures below.   I also am walking quite a bit because there is a lot of rain right now and that is not much fun to ride in.

The view from Randa … A nice climb on the bike
A nice road through central Majorca
Bike paths follow many major highways in Majorca
The canal past the Cathedral
A Statue in Central Palma

I know this post is a bit preachy but I obsess over weather and things are really strange right now which is bad enough.  That strange weather is creating a lot of uncertainty and that drives me nuts.

Perhaps tomorrow will offer a bit of sunshine and a bike ride.  Thanks for reading!


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