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One of the most remarkable weather events ever seen is unfolding in Russia. While no one heat wave, or a single high temperature, are by themselves evidence for global warming, as the planet warms up these phenomena will become the norm rather than the exception:

The extreme heat has led to the worst drought conditions in European Russia in a half-century, prompting the Russian government to suspend wheat exports. The drought has caused extreme fire danger over most of European Russia (Figure 3), and fires in Russia have killed at least 50 people in the past week and leveled thousands of homes. The fires are the worst since 1972, when massive forest and peat bog fires burned an area of 100,000 square km and killed at 104 people in the Moscow region alone. Smoke from the current fires spans a region over 3,000 km (1,860 miles) from east to west, approximately the distance from San Francisco to Chicago.  

To put this in rough perspective -- and note this is not absolutely precise, it's purely ballpark to give you some feel for what the Russian people are enduring -- if this heat wave was hitting North America, it would be near 100°F in Fairbanks, Alaska. Most of Canada would be baking at 100° or higher, the northeast, from Maine to the Great Lakes region would be hitting upwards of 105° everyday, even the nightly low in the massive urban heat islands of New York and Chicago would be over 90°! The midwest grain belt and parts of the Pacific Northwest would not see a drop of rain for two months and pushing as high as 110° in places. The desert southwest, even some of the higher elevations of Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and West Texas, would be as uninhabitable as Death Valley or the Sahara.

It would mean nation-wide massive power brownouts, unprecedented crop failures, water rationing like you have never seen, record wildfires raging in dozens of states, thousands of deaths [Correction: Dr. Jeff Masters at WeatherUnderground informs me it would probably more like tens of thousands of deaths] and life threatening heat related illness, roads and highways clogged with broken-down, over-heated cars, and emergency services stretched beyond the breaking point across the US and Canada. The conditions could be so severe in places, especially if the wave persisted for a couple of years, that it could produce mass migration, i.e., refugees, the likes of which haven't been seen since the Great Depression. But then again it snowed in DC last year ...

  • I am known by the greatness of my enemies! Unfortunately, industry rentboy Steve Milloy and wrong-way Jonah Goldberg are the best I've been able to produce. But they are both world class hypocrites, so maybe that counts for something?
  • Must see video of the coldest, highest swim, on Mt. Everest no less! The speaker is outstanding and explains, sadly, his swim would not have been possible, if not for a lake newly formed by climate change and rapidly receding glaciers.
  • New analysis of Martian material points to evidence of ancient life.
  • The most commonly used test for marijuana has caused a massive number of false positives resulting in arrest, imprisonment, and job loss for untold thousands of innocent, non drug-using people.
  • Government agents went strangely out of their way in what appears to be an effort to discredit and possibly restrict genetic testing companies for reasons unknown.
  • I don't know all the details yet, but Phil Plait, better known as the Bad Astronomer, has landed a three part special on the Discovery channel on the Bad Universe!


    Update: I'd love to push MSNBC to give Phil a weekly show to debunk crap science. What do you guys think? Would that have an audience?

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sat Aug 07, 2010 at 06:00 AM PDT.

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