“Welcome to the Rest of Our Lives”
July 3, 2012
The Washington Post, along with the rest of the mainstream media, has failed us spectacularly on the most important issues of my lifetime, and of the millennium. Better late than never, Eugene Robinson’s piece today was spot on.
Still don’t believe in climate change? Then you’re either deep in denial or delirious from the heat.
As I write this, the nation’s capital and its suburbs are in post-apocalypse mode. About one-fourth of all households have no electricity, the legacy of an unprecedented assault by violent thunderstorms Friday night. Things are improving: At the height of the power outage, nearly half the region was dark.
Yes, it’s always hot here in the summer — but not this hot. Yes, we always have thunderstorms — but never like these. The cliché is true: It did sound like a freight train.
According to scientists, climate change means not only that we will see higher temperatures but that there will be more extreme weather events like the one we just experienced. Welcome to the rest of our lives.
This is the point in the column where I’m obliged to insert the disclaimer that no one event — no heat wave, no hurricane, no outbreak of tornadoes or freakish storms — can be definitively blamed on climate change. Any one data point can be an anomaly; any cluster of data points can be mere noise.
The problem for those who dismiss climate change as a figment of scientists’ imagination, or even as a crypto-socialist one-worldish plot to take away our God-given SUVs, is that the data are beginning to add up.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the past winter was the fourth-warmest on record in the United States. To top that, spring — which meteorologists define as the months of March, April and May — was the warmest since recordkeeping began in 1895. If you don’t believe me or the scientists, ask a farmer whose planting seasons have gone awry.
There comes a point where anomalies can start looking like a trend. What much of the country has seen the past few days is no ordinary heat wave. Temperatures reached 105 in Raleigh,106 in Atlanta and 108 in Columbia, S.C., and Macon, Ga., 109 in Nashville — all-time highs.
Meanwhile, the most destructive wildfires in Colorado history were destroying hundreds of homes — a legacy of drought that left forests as dry as tinder. Changes in rainfall and snowfall patterns in the West cannot, of course, be blamed on climate change with any certainty. But they are consistent with scientists’ predictions.
It becomes harder to ignore those predictions when a toppled tree is blocking your driveway and the power is out.
One other observation: As repair crews struggle to get the lights back on, it happens to be another sunny day. Critics have blasted the Obama administration’s unfruitful investment in solar energy. But if government-funded research managed to lower the price of solar panels to the point where it became economical to install them on residential roofs, all you global warming skeptics would have air conditioning right now. I’m just sayin’.
How the heck did this AP report make it onto the Fox News Website?
WASHINGTON – If you want a glimpse of some of the worst of global warming, scientists suggest taking a look at U.S. weather in recent weeks.
Horrendous wildfires. Oppressive heat waves. Devastating droughts. Flooding from giant deluges. And a powerful freak wind storm called a derecho.
These are the kinds of extremes climate scientists have predicted will come with climate change, although it’s far too early to say that is the cause. Nor will they say global warming is the reason 3,215 daily high temperature records were set in the month of June.
“This is what global warming looks like at the regional or personal level,” said Jonathan Overpeck, professor of geosciences and atmospheric sciences at the University of Arizona. “The extra heat increases the odds of worse heat waves, droughts, storms and wildfire. This is certainly what I and many other climate scientists have been warning about.”
Kevin Trenberth, head of climate analysis at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in fire-charred Colorado, said these are the very record-breaking conditions he has said would happen, but many people wouldn’t listen. So it’s I told-you-so time, he said.
As recently as March, a special report an extreme events and disasters by the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned of “unprecedented extreme weather and climate events.” Its lead author, Chris Field of the Carnegie Institution and Stanford University, said Monday, “It’s really dramatic how many of the patterns that we’ve talked about as the expression of the extremes are hitting the U.S. right now.