Volatile weather “new normal” in world beset by global warming
According to Bloomberg, Texas’ driest year in history was 2011. Just four years later, the state saw its wettest year ever. Also in 2011, the Mississippi River hit its highest ever flood levels – then, in 2012, its second-lowest. And after a six-year drought, Northern California experienced twice as much rainfall as normal this year, breaking a record that the state previously set in 1983. The big question is how we cope with the increasingly volatile weather systems that we’re creating through climate change. Unfortunately, history may not be able to help.
According to California’s state climatologist, Mike Anderson, our weather systems are breaking new ground. He told Bloomberg that: “we might be wondering into an area where history might be a bystander. That gets a little scary because history’s here to provide context.”
As weather patterns swing from one extreme to the other, problems arise not just for weather forecasters, but also for governments: how do you accurately gauge the necessary flood precautions, for example, when rainfall becomes tricky to predict?
Atmospheric science professor at MIT, Kerry Emanuel, says “hydrological extremes – floods and droughts – are the most dangerous aspects of global warming because they lead to food and water shortages and that can lead to armed conflict.”
With these weather threats increasing, and their prediction becoming more and more difficult, the onus is on water technology companies like Xylem Inc. to provide workable solutions. This might mean quickly transportable water pumps to combat flooding, and water recycling and desalinization plants to combat droughts.
While weather systems may be becoming increasingly difficult to predict, it is their very unpredictability that lets us be sure about one thing: that companies like Xylem are likely to become more and more important as climate change continues.
Dominion holds Xylem Inc., as well as other water technology companies, in its Global Trends Managed Fund.
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