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Summer ends amid changed climate in Beijing

Updated: 2021-09-07 08:15 ( China Daily Global )
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I was always a bit of a weather nerd.

In the United States, I would tune in regularly to the Weather Channel.

Having been born in the Philippines, the land of 20 typhoons a year, I kept a studious eye out on the weather.

My first summer in Beijing in 2019, the cool springlike weather lasted for all of a week.

After May 8, the heat swiftly climbed into the mid-30 degrees and stayed that way until around the middle of September.

There were days when the early morning temperature was over 30 C and walking to the small supermarket down the road from the China Daily compound became an exercise in sweat management.

Not to mention having a water bottle handy to keep hydrated like a beached monitor lizard.

For a newcomer, I thought that was the norm when the summer of 2020 came in just as steamy even though the COVID-19 pandemic seems to have moderated the temperatures a little.

And then 2021 rolled in.

At first, it seemed like the previous summers, with the thermometer going into the mid-30s C in June.

But then it started to rain, almost every afternoon on the dot. Some days, it seemed someone decided to turn on the spigot full blast.

Sitting near a window in the business news section on the third floor, the heavy rain appeared like clockwork every afternoon.

"We get more rainstorms than dust storms in Beijing," a friend quipped while watching the large drops slam against the windows of our building.

Scientists say this is how climate change will look like.

NASA in the United States put it this way:

"Current climate models indicate that rising temperatures will intensify the Earth's water cycle, increasing evaporation. Increased evaporation will result in more frequent and intense storms, but will also contribute to drying over some land areas. As a result, storm-affected areas are likely to experience increases in precipitation and increased risk of flooding, while areas located far away from storm tracks are likely to experience less precipitation and increased risk of drought."

Another from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change climate report is just as blunt.

"Climate change is intensifying the water cycle. This brings more intense rainfall and associated flooding, as well as more intense drought in many regions," it said.

The language is scientific, but the impact of the intense rainfall has been deadly. Hundreds have perished in China from floods. Wildfires killed scores in California in the US and Greece.

I get official phone alerts in Beijing warning of floods in the city when heavy rains are on the way.

Friends emailed me asking if the floods in the country are affecting me. I tell them I am safe, but others are not.

What is it they used to say about the weather? Just look out the window. That used to be enough.

It is no longer possible in this summer of almost daily rainstorms in Beijing. When there is a blue sky, people rejoice.

Climate change has pretty much been in the face of every human being on the planet this year.

I can see climate change happening outside my apartment window, watching in morbid fascination as the thunderheads of clouds form on the horizon and march like invading soldiers into the city.

The weather has not only been weird. Climate change is not just something on the horizon anymore. It is here.

Rene Pastor

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