Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Red Dawn

Photo: Kate Geraghty

Yep, Sydney this morning. The news is also reporting Melbourne was shaken by a couple of earthquakes and Hobart is being dumped upon from a great height with buckets of rain. Oh, and we've already had a bushfire in our local area.

Weird weather? Pissy Mother Nature? Climate change?.

Well... there's this story on the shrinking of the ozone hole over Antarctica where a reduction in the use of household chemicals is credited with a narrowing of the hole.

It's been raining red mud here and there's a fine layer of dust on everything. It's unusual, but the same thing happened a couple of years ago - with similar squeally 'It looks like Armageddon!' 'birds are falling out of the sky!' and 'my cat's gone missing!' comments from sophisticated city folk.

The dust, of course, comes from the Outback. With low rainfall this winter, the spring winds pick up the dust and blow it towards the coast. Wind is the harbinger of spring - happens every year. With an impending El Nino event predicted, the atmosphere is dry. But when the wind turns in a 180, the fog will roll in because the water temperature is cooler than the air temperature and mist develops.

Earthquakes? On Saturday, The Sydney Morning Herald ran a story warning Australians to Be Prepared for Volcanoes. Could be Victoria is about to erupt.

Excessive rain in Tasmania? No, it copes a lot rain most years.

Bushfires. El Nino is drying everything out, the weather is warming sooner.

Climate change, then. I have issue with the man-made climate change proponents. The Earth's weather moves in cycles larger and for longer than we've been around with our technology. Can a scientist tell me the hole in the ozone layer has never happened before? That the Earth hasn't been warmer than it is now followed by much colder weather? I could go on... but I won't.

The point is (yes, there is one) that weather and climate (and they are different) constantly changes. We only notice when we're jerked out of our nice, comfortable assumptions.

World building works in a similar fashion. When you've built your world - environment, civilisations, religions, political structures, military, etc. - the arrival of a comet, unusual weather, can cause all manner of upheaval: think religious portent, prophecy; a strong military that suddenly finds itself helpless; an all-powerful civilian government in panic mode; the public focusing on a man in the street holding a sign that reads 'the end is nigh' and realising it's true.

How would an impending natural catastrophe affect your world? It takes a lot of work to create a new world, a new civilisation, but so little effort to destroy it and the consequences can make for an intriguing book.


Pandababy said...

Amazing photo - great explanation.

Jaye Patrick said...

sigh More wind and dust on the way this weekend - I don't think I'll be washing the car just yet.