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Two notable anniversaries

Today is notable for two unique anniversaries, related to climate and humans’  impact on the environment.

The United Kingdom Meteorology Office tweeted today,  “Today is the first time for almost 70 years that there have been no tropical storms active anywhere in the world on 1st September.”  Considering that this is the peak of hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean, it shows how rare the recent lack of tropical storm activity has been in the historical record.  The lack of tropical storms is certainly contributing to recent dry conditions in the Southeast, where a significant fraction of rainfall during the tropical season (some studies put it at up to 30 percent of all precipitation) is from tropical systems.

The other notable anniversary today is the 100th anniversary of the extinction of the passenger pigeon.  This bird, which at one point numbered between 3 and 5 billion individuals, was wiped off the face of the earth by hunters who took advantage of the birds’ habit of nesting in clumps to wipe them out for their cheap protein.    Audubon Magazine has an interesting article on the demise of the passenger pigeon at  Just one example of how much humans have been able to impact the environment, even to the point of wiping species off the face of the earth, for a hundred years or more.