We were 3/4 through the journey to Nairobi. I looked out my window over the Sahara Desert… and watched a thunderstorm!
I couldn’t believe my eyes. Towering storms were forcing our 777 flying at 39,000′ to take little turns around them. Every once in a while, there was a break all the way down to the floor of the western Sudan, and taking my binoculars, all I could see was sand!
There weren’t even rocks, or oases as could be seen over Libya a few hours earlier, or even hard butte as often protrude above the Sahara sand. It was just… sand! And it was raining!
The scientific community is agog with the notion that the Sahara may be regreening itself as a result of climate change. National Geographic’s July 31 article seems to have condensed and collected most of the research, but the fact is that scientists have been mulling over the notion for the last decade.
The Royal Meteorological Institute in De Bilt, the Netherlands, has been predicting a greening of the Sahara for nearly ten years. Among their projected events are “thunderstorms over the Sahara” exactly as I had seen.
But whoaa, Nelly! The above information is also being widely used by bloggers and other to support a notion that climate change ain’t all that bad.
It seems intrinsically true that any event that would give Africa more food or water is essentially a good one. But a number of researchers, including the famous Dr. Stefan Kröpelin of the University of Cologne are ardently showing us that any climate change that happens as fast as seems to be happening, now, has no precedent and might not be good.
Several years ago a few scientists suggested that the Sahara Desert formed in a very short time. Peter B. deMenocal of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory claimed that most of the Sahara could have been formed within only a few centuries.
Kröpelin’s polite but aggressive challenge in a May, 2008, article in Science suggests that the majority of the scientific community doubts that earth ever changed that quickly. Although he didn’t say so, many of us read between the lines: caution, George, any fast change isn’t necessarily good based on the historical record.
Certainly what’s happening in the populated African equatorial world, today, is not good. There has been such erratic climate over the last decade, that drought is followed by floods is followed by drought. If anything, social disruption has been the principle result.
Is this the silver lining? Or the mercury poisoning?