Climate Changes: This year it’s a double whammy

Taiwan’s government weather bureau have issued two warnings in the last week, both bad news and a sign of how climate change exists, despite denials by the ignorant, incompetent and inane (e.g. Annoying Orange and his cast of clowns).

The first is water rationing in certain provinces across the island.  Last fall there were very few typhoons, so the reservoirs were not filled as they usually are (we don’t get pack snowfall here except on one mountain).  Because of this, water rationing has been declared in some counties and townships, the supply cut off during certain hours of the day or night.

Fortunately, the government is reacting much quicker this year than it did in 2015. That year, most reservoirs were below 50% capacity, one as low as 19%.  Right now, the lowest is 55%, and there has been almost a week of rain across the island.  Typhoons have started coming in the spring during recent years (something unheard of in Taiwan’s history) which should alleviate the problem.

The second is cold weather warnings.  In January 2016, nearly all of Taiwan hit low temperatures of 3°C to 9°C for about two weeks.  These temperatures came for several days accompanied by winds, making them feel even colder.  Taiwan homes are constructed to survive earthquakes and typhoons, they’re not insulated for the cold, so nearly a hundred people died in their homes.  It was so cold that certain areas of Taiwan experienced light snowfall or (where I lived) light hail.  I hadn’t seen snow in eleven years until that point. (Normally in January, waiguoren like myself wear t-shirts and shorts outside, but even we started wearing coats.)

This year, however, colder temperature (5°C to 12°C) have continued from early January until now, the end of February.  By now, Taipei should be in the low 20s°C, but are only in the high teens.  While it’s not lethal this time and people are prepared, it’s still not normal.  And while it may not be cold enough to kill plants, it’s definitely going to affect the planting and harvest of crops.  Food shortages and higher prices are a possibility.