By Johnathan Benson
America is falling apart, literally, and the extreme weather events of the past few months and years surely have not helped the situation any. A recent New York Times (NYT) piece explains that various roads, bridges, and even nuclear power facilities all across the country are crumbling, or otherwise undergoing severe structural damage, as a result of the extreme heat waves that continue to sweep the nation.
Northern states, for example, which typically do not experience extreme summer heat, have fallen victim to several unusual and extreme weather events in recent years that have caused roads and highway overpasses to buckle or separate, train tracks to kink and bend, and nuclear power facility cooling pools to run hot or completely dry. Extreme rain, drought, and storm conditions have also been problematic in many other areas as well, which has led many civil engineers to reevaluate their long-held structural standards.
“The frequency of extreme weather is up over the past few years, and people who deal with infrastructure expect that to continue,” wrote Matthew L. Wald and John Schwartz for the (NYT). “Leading climate models suggest that weather-sensitive parts of the infrastructure will be seeing many more extreme episodes, along with shifts in weather patterns and rising maximum (and minimum) temperatures.”
Roadways have separated in North Carolina; highways are cracking in Texas; and drainage culverts have blown out in Vermont, all due to extreme weather events just within in the past year. A U.S. Airways jet in Virginia actually got stuck on the tarmac recently because its wheels melted into the overly-hot asphalt.
Nuclear power plants particularly throughout the Midwest and Northeast, where two “derecho” storm waves recently barreled through, have also been having issues with their cooling pools as high temperatures are causing cooling water to exceed maximum allowable temperatures. In Chicago, for instance, a twin-unit nuclear plant reportedly had to obtain special clearance to continue operating, as its cooling water exceeded the 100-degree maximum by two degrees.
US continues to be stricken by severe drought conditions
Bloomberg reports that nuclear power production across the U.S. has been exceptionally low overall this year as a result of severe drought and heat conditions. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, nearly 64 percent of the entire land area of the lower 48 states is experiencing moderate-to-severe drought conditions, which is having devastating consequences on both infrastructure and food crops.
Admittedly, America’s infrastructure has already been in decline for many years. But this fact makes the weather-induced damage particularly disturbing, especially in light of the recent grid failure in India, which left hundreds of millions of people with power. This particular disaster appears to be an omen of what is soon to come in the U.S. if conditions do not improve.
- US Infrastructure in Disarray Due to Extreme Weather, Climate Change (commondreams.org)
- Is It Hot Enough for Ya? (nytimes.com)
- Weather Extremes Leave Parts of U.S. Grid Buckling (sott.net)
- Nasa scientist’s study quantifies climate change link to extreme weather (guardian.co.uk)
- The Agenda: Planet: How to Parse Climate Change and Extreme Weather? (green.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Infrastructure literally melts under record heat in the US (rt.com)
- Death Valley heat in Kansas? How the end of June got so hot. (csmonitor.com)
- Extreme Heat Waves Becoming The Norm (news.discovery.com)
- Climate Change Drives These Extreme Weather Events [chart] (treehugger.com)
- ‘It’s fact, not theory: extreme weather due to global warming’ . (scotsman.com)