Just How Hot Is It?

(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

It’s been pretty hot across the United States with little rain crops are withering and wild fires rage throughout the West. There is no denying that this year has been really warm. Actually, it’s been warmer for a year now:

According to the NOAA National Climatic Data Center’s “State of the Climate: National Overview for June 2012” report released Monday, the 12-month period from July 2011 to June 2012 was the warmest on record (since recordkeeping began in 1895) for the contiguous United States, with a nationally-averaged temperature of 56.0 degrees, 3.2 degrees higher than the long-term average.

According to the report, every single state in the contiguous U.S. except for Washington saw warmer-than-average temperatures during this time period. The period from January to June of this year also has been the warmest first half of a year on record for the U.S. mainland.

For a large portion of the contiguous U.S., these first six months were also drier than average=Statewideprank&submitted=Submit]. The U.S. Drought Monitor showed that as of July 3, 56 percent of the contiguous U.S. is experiencing drought conditions. In June, wildfires burned over 1.3 million acres, the second most on record for the month.

We need to have better conversations about climate than having hacks like George Will pontificating that “it’s Summer” as though the evidence for change doesn’t exist. Or as The Washington Post columnist Joel Achenbach puts it, Global warming is a fact:

At some point we should stop litigating the basic question of whether climate change is happening. Climate change is a fact. The spike in atmospheric CO2 is a fact. The dramatic high-latitude warming is a fact. That the trends aren’t uniform and linear, and that there are anomalies here and there, does not change the long-term pattern. The warming trend has flattened out in the last decade but probably only because of air pollution from Chinese coal-fired power plants or somesuch forcing we haven’t fully discovered (smog is hardly the long-term solution we should be seeking). The broader patterns are clear.

Models show the greatest warming spike down the road still, decades hence. Thus in a sense, saying that “this is what global warming is like” whenever we have a heat wave actually understates the problem. Having spent much of my life in Florida, I can tell you, what kills you in summer is not the temperature but the duration of the season, which lasts basically forever – into November or even December in South Florida. So, yeah, 100 degrees in July gets my attention here in DC, but so will a stretch of 85-degree high temperatures in October.

This past Sunday, Chris Hayes on his MSNBC show “Up with Chris Hayes” hosted a panel that discussed the recent wave of extreme heat and it relationship to climate change. His guests were Bill McKibben (@billmckibben), author of “Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet” and founder of 350.org, a global grassroots environmental movement to solve the climate crisis; Eric Klinenberg (@EricKlinenberg), professor of sociology at New York University and author of “Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago;” Thomas Mann co-author with Norman Ornstein of “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism“, a senior fellow for governance studies and the W. Averell Harriman Chair at the Brookings Institution; Joan Walsh (@joanwalsh), MSNBC political analyst and Salon’s editor-at-large; and Esther Armah (@estherarmah), playwright and author, host of “Wake Up Call” on WBAI-FM.


    • TMC on July 11, 2012 at 15:14

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