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Here is my latest on DeSmogBlog, an analysis of the extreme weather events in the country, and how the media is reporting and ignoring the story.

Large portions of the country are on fire.  Record droughts currently encompass massive swaths of America.  The areas not experiencing droughts have been inundated with flooding.  Winter weather in many areas was almost non-existent.  A few years ago, an Academy Award-winning film called “An Inconvenient Truth” warned wary Americans that all of these events would become the new normal under the affects of climate change.  But these are no longer warnings – this is the reality that we’ve lived with this year.

It is becoming increasingly more difficult to ignore the evidence that surrounds all of us.  And it isn’t just the United States.  Every corner of the globe is experiencing the direct effects of climate change in some form or fashion.  And again, we were warned that all of this was going to happen.

My hometown of Gulf Breeze, Florida feels like its been a petri dish for climate change stories.  In the past month, we’ve had two separate droughts that were both ended by flash flooding.  In between these events, we avoided a hit from pre-season tropical storm Debby, which turned eastward and drenched central Florida with torrential rains.  Last weekend we had a heat index of 112 degrees, and I awoke this morning (again, after weeks of drought) to find half of my yard underwater due to coastal flooding.

In the U.S., the reality of climate change has certainly been an eye opener for many Americans.  This year has been like none we’ve ever seen.  It began in the winter, when snowfall dropped to near-record lows, whereas the previous year had given us record amounts of snowfall.  Some areas did see an increase in snowfall, but that was quickly offset by record-breaking high temperatures.  Springtime also brought us record-breaking temperatures, and has now become the hottest Spring season on record.  In March alone, a staggering 15,000 high-temperature records were broken.  For the entire year, as of July 3rd, we’ve broken more than 40,000 high-temperature records in the U.S.

In January of this year, the U.S. witnessed at least 70 tornadoes.  Since then, almost 800 additional tornadoes have been reported in the country.

And, for once, most of the media is actually paying attention.  Here’s a recent piece from the Associated Press, via Huffington Post:

Among the extreme events…record-breaking wildfires in the West in the past two years, including in Colorado, where blazes recently damaged or destroyed nearly 350 homes and killed two people.

Last spring was the warmest in the Unites States since 1895, when records were first kept. For only the third time since hurricane records started in 1851, two hurricanes formed over the North Atlantic before the season officially began June 1.

Think Progress reported on several NBC affiliates that have sounded the alarm over the extreme weather events we’re seeing:

NBC Meteorologist Bill Karins said on Friday , “We’ve never really seen a heat wave like this in the month of June.” Sadly, in a few decades this will just be considered a normal June.

How hot is it? It is so hot that NBC Washington’s Chief Meteorologist, Doug Kammerer, explained on air “If we did not have global warming, we wouldn’t see this.” ran the following:

The United States is parched, with more than half of the lower 48 states experiencing moderate to extreme drought, according to a report released today (July 5).

Just under 56 percent of the contiguous United States is in drought conditions, the most extensive area in the 12-year history of the U.S. Drought Monitor. The previous drought records occurred on Aug. 26, 2003, when 54.79 percent of the lower 48 were in drought and on Sept 10, 2002, when drought extended across 54.63 percent of this area.

There are countless stories online quoting experts who are proclaiming “this is what climate change looks like.”  But that’s just the online print world.  The mainstream media is a different story all together.  According to Media Matters, the idea of “climate change” has been absent from most of the reporting on the devastating wildfires that have engulfed Colorado:  The major television and print outlets largely ignored climate change in their coverage of wildfires in Colorado, New Mexico and other Western states. All together, only 3 percent of the reports mentioned climate change, including 1.6 percent of television segments and 6 percent of text articles.  

These findings are on par with a previous Media Matters report from earlier this year, that showed that coverage of climate change and related issues fell by 90% on Sunday morning talk shows between the years 2009 and 2011, and by 72% on nightly news programs.

The recent extreme events have done little to sway the hardcore climate deniers, but the American public seems to be paying attention.  They are starting to realize that this is no longer an issue with which we can bury our heads in the sand.  Climate change is happening, and that’s the sad reality in which we now live.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Read the drought story carefully. It refers to (0+ / 0-)

    the worst drought conditions in the 12 year history of the metric.

    Droughts in the 1930s and 1950s were worse.

    Also, we may set a new summer heat record in 2012.  Lsst year was the second warmest summer in US history, with 1936 still holding the record.

    Where are we, now that we need us most?

    by Frank Knarf on Fri Jul 06, 2012 at 07:57:33 PM PDT

  •  I see you mentioned tornadoes, but we're actually (5+ / 0-)

    pretty far behind in the tornado count this year compared to the 2005-2011 average. The outbreak on March 2nd and another one in April brought us up above for a while, but we've lacked the ingredients for constant outbreaks this year. (The lacking being a good thing, mind you).

    Overall, we've had a fairly lacking severe weather season, all things considered. That being said, one severe storm hitting your house could mean the difference between "nothing happened" and "the worst year ever."

    Last week's derecho, however, will become more commonplace as heat waves of longer and greater intensity occur in the eastern two-thirds of the US. They've happened for as long as we've had weather, but the increased frequency of intense "ring of fire" heat waves would theoretically create more opportunities for derechos to happen.

    If you say "gullible" real slow, it sounds like "green beans."

    by weatherdude on Fri Jul 06, 2012 at 08:22:44 PM PDT

  •  Nobody can wonk up a good story (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Louisiana 1976

    like some liberals. I remember posting back in March that I was worried about this summer because March was so warm. I got plenty of advice on how the weather in the spring has nothing to do with what happens in the summer. So now it's 90 degrees at midnight in Pittsburgh. Hey you Internet Experts, I'm going with the trend as I see it; you can keep your theories.

    We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.

    by PowWowPollock on Fri Jul 06, 2012 at 09:25:59 PM PDT

  •  National Academy of Sciences Climate Change Video (0+ / 0-)

    This video on Climate Change, Lines of Evidence was just released by the National Academy of Sciences, to answer common questions about climate change.

  •  The ohio river valley (0+ / 0-)

    area has been ridiculously hot! Its 103 today! It was like this all last week..well, until that horrendous Derecho slammed across the country. It was cool for like a day after and now its back up to 100s.

    All last winter, it snowed only twice. and both times it was completely melted within a day.

    Already, I've a kingdom in my prospects, a land to rule. What to ask for? Perhaps a frozen scone...

    by kamrom on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 01:41:43 PM PDT

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