Guest post: Snow is AWOL

Originally a comment by Bjarte Foshaug on Never going back.

The situation is much the same in south-eastern Norway. For the first time ever this year the trusted spring flood due to snowmelt in the second half of May has been completely absent due to record-low levels of snow in the mountains. Combine that with the driest summer on record, and it’s becoming a major challenge for hydropower companies such as the one I’m working in to keep our power plants running. To the end consumers this has the effect of driving the already economy-breaking energy prices even further up. Factor in the European over-reliance on Russian gas that is no longer available, and we’re facing the real prospect of rationing this upcoming winter.

Many have suggested that Putin is now counting on the crisis to turn Europeans against their own governments and make them elect pro-Russian rightwing populists who will ease the sanctions against Russia and withdraw their support for Ukraine. He is obviously also counting on the Republicans to regain control over the U.S. Senate, in which case his old friend and ally Donald Trump (or someone equally bad) may very well be “legally” declared winner of the next presidential election, even if he doesn’t win the election – not even on a technicality as in 2016.

It’s like everything about this problem is self-reinforcing. Not only does the initial increase in global temperatures trigger positive feedback loops that lead to further increases in global temperatures (the greenhouse effect being amplified due to more water vapor in the atmosphere, less sunlight reflected back into space due to less snow and ice etc.), and not only does the problem significantly impair the best available alternatives to fossil fuel, such as hydropower, but the misery and suffering caused by the problem make it – if at all possible – even less politically feasible to do anything about it.

Oh well… The rest of the universe should be fine…

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