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Millions (perhaps billions) around the world hold their breath during Olympic events, watching the seconds fly with their eyes on the "OR" (Olympic Record) and "WR" (World Record) numbers in the corner of the screen.  And, moving past the nationalism of "our" (whichever nation's) athletes, it is a hold the breath amazing moment when a new record tumbles.

Sadly, however, the Olympics are far from where the most impressive and most important record-breaking is occurring.  Instead, it is in our backyards and communities.

In the United States through 5 August, with over 35% of the year still to come),  there have been 27,042 high temperature records broken in 2012.

To provide a context, "2011 had the second-warmest summer on record for the lower 48 states."  And, with that "second-warmest summer on record", the United States broke or tied 26,674 daily record highs -- through all 12 months of 2011.

Let's be clear, just like in athletics, many "records" are "made to broken".

However, just like in athletics, 'steroids' can have their impact on weather. With droughts, heat waves, flooding, storms, and other mounting extreme weather, the United States -- and the rest of the planet -- is seeing the impact of a climate on the steroids of humanity's greenhouse gas emissions and other impacts on the climate system.

With the Olympics in mind, what we're seeing is the climate's equivalent to East Germany's "women" breaking Olympic swimming records.

Simply put, hot and cold records should roughly balance over time.  We are, however, seeing a drastically skewed set of record-breaking that is worsening in an almost exponential fashion. While recent decades have seen a growing proportion of more "hot" than "cold" records, rather than something close to an even balance, 2012 is seeing something more like a 10 to 1 imbalance of more hot rather than cold temperature records.

This isn't accidental nor natural nor cyclical nor normal, as anti-science syndrome suffering haters of a livable economic system (e.g., climate deniers) want you to think.  As Senator Reid laid out so eloquently,

It’s time for us all – whether we’re leaders in Washington, members of the media, scientists, academics, environmentalists or utility industry executives – to stop acting like those who ignore the crisis or deny it exists entirely have a valid point of view. They don’t.
The international community -- and the United States and the United States Congress -- reacted with disgust at the impact of steroids on sports (especially the Olympics).  And, there has been action to reduce that impact with severe penalties to those who violate the rules against steroid use.

With all due respect to the personal achievements of Olympic and other athletes, sports record-breaking is meaningless in comparison to the real-world impacts that we are already seeing from climate change and the spectre of what might happen with unchecked catastrophic climate chaos.  It is well past time to move our attention off the sports pages and to treat climate statistics with the same seriousness and passion as sports records.

Related:  Seth Borenstein, Ouch! July in US was hottest ever in history books

And, as long as we're talking "Olympics", want to learn about some undiscussed Olympic Greenwashing?

Originally posted to Climate Hawks on Wed Aug 08, 2012 at 11:35 AM PDT.

Also republished by DK GreenRoots.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Yep I Happened to Check Monthly High Temp Records (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maryabein, RunawayRose, John Crapper

    for my town last yer and they're all post 1975, most post 1990. Record cold temps are far more distributed.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Aug 08, 2012 at 11:43:31 AM PDT

  •  Take a look at Brooklyn Jim's diary (3+ / 0-)

    about to scroll off the Community Diary list.  I have been following this amazing storm at the north pole, smashing and slushing the remaining ice up there.  

  •  And what about the India blackout record? (7+ / 0-)

    From what I understand, India's monsoons didn't show up very well this year, which in turn made their hydro-electric production less than normal, plus the high temps and air conditioners and you've got a record setting blackout from an over loaded grid.

  •  I've sadly come to the conclusion (7+ / 0-)

    that many people (including those in power) choose to believe that technology will save the day, after all didn't we just land Curiosity on Mars?  We know the problem but don't have the political will to deliver the many solutions that will have to be implemented to bring climate change under control.

  •  what we're doing to the planet (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, A Siegel, John Crapper

    is more like this Olympic disaster from yesterday's weightlifting event...

    Matthias Steiner of Germany gets hit by the weights while failing to make a successful lift in the men's over 105-kg, group A, weightlifting competition at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Aug. 7, 2012, in London.
  •  What I find interesting is that grain crops are... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, the fan man, A Siegel

    ...collapsing not only in the American midwest, but parts of Europe as well.

    From where I sit, no one is paying attention.

    The media couldn't care less, probably because Americans couldn't care less.

    We are so numb that we couldn't care less where our food comes from.

    Maybe we'll all have famine advertised as a wonderful weight loss program.

    As for getting Americans (or anyone else) to care or do something, let me quote General Sherman in another context:   "You may as well appeal against a thunderstorm!"

    One thing I like about you Adam is that you never stop hoping that someone will care, even after it's much too late for anything meaningful to be done.

    The technical and financial effort required to do even trivial things would be enormous, and still we have to ask people to stop thinking about the Olympics for 20 minutes.

    If, at this point, you still have to beg people to look away from the Olympics to care that the world food supply is obviously under threat, how optimistic are you, seriously?

    •  India too. Monsoon was weak, rice harvests (6+ / 0-)

      will be off. We no longer keep a 180 day supply of grain on hand for the world's population. Very serious people decided in the late 80s better to stuff the larder with T-bills than wheat.

      We could say on any given day the American people are more concerned with Kardashians (an alien race capable of doing nothing without a camera present), the Olympics (we could use help from Demeter about now), or our touchdown on Mars (yawn).

      To paraphrase John Lennon "Instant climate change is gonna get you, gonna smack you right in the face".

      Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. -Martin Luther

      by the fan man on Wed Aug 08, 2012 at 01:08:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Optimism? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      John Crapper

      1.  As with you, with kids, how can we abandon hope -- even if for ameliorating the damage?

      2.  "Anything meaningful ..."  We have what any sane person would define as catastrophic impacts already apparent. And, as we both know, these will get worse.  I retain (back to point 1) some 'hope' that we can act to impact (reduce) how much "worse" the situation will get.

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Wed Aug 08, 2012 at 01:36:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My kids are becoming men. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        A Siegel, mightymouse

        The oldest will be off to college within two years.

        My youngest will be finishing junior high this year.

        I have apologized to them as often as I can for what my generation has done to them, but anything that remains will fall to them.    

        What can I say or do for them at this point?   Give them internet links to what Greenpeace says they can do by 2090?    They already know it's absurd.

        I may have used this image before in a conversation with you, and I apologize if this scrapes up against Godwin's law, but when I speak to my sons about this, I am trying to be more and more like that man I read of somewhere who when bringing his children to the pits at Babi Yar, kept pointing to the birds, the trees, and the skies and remarking on how beautiful each of these was.

        A few weeks ago, I took my oldest boy to the Museum of Modern Art.     We remarked on how beautiful so many of the paintings were.

        I have personally come to the conclusion - I and think you may appreciate that I have studied the situation seriously and in many places on the deepest level that my abilities allowed - that the situation will be managed by catastrophe.

        I don't really believe that there are, or ever will be, enough windmills and solar cells or electric cars or even (what may have been more realistic when there was still time) nuclear power plants to save very much.

        We've had grain crop collapses on every continent where grain grows in the last 10 years, in Russia, in Australia, in France, North America, South America.    How many electric cars and whatever would it take to prevent all of the crops collapsing at the same time at some point in the next decade?

        To mix metaphors, we're both on the Titanic, and you're trying to organize the lifeboats, and I'm listening to the beautiful rendition of "Nearer my God to thee."

        I'd remark on how beautiful the trees are around here, except that so many have already died and so many others are obviously dying.

        Have a great evening.

  •  it's really, really alarming (4+ / 0-)

    just the sheer volume of weather records being shattered. everywhere.

    the width of a gnat's ass hair absolutely dwarfs the probability that such could happen by chance / randomly.

    the nifty dynamic equilibrium that our global climate has enjoyed for the past few thousand years has been thoroughly perturbed.

    by us.

    and it's not going to settle back into whatever new, adjusted conditions of dynamic equilibrium anytime soon. not in our lifetime. not in our grandkids'. or even in theirs.

    keep your eyes on the sky. put a dollar in the kitty. don't the moon look pretty. --becker&fagen

    by homo neurotic on Wed Aug 08, 2012 at 12:30:25 PM PDT

  •  Denver just set a record for (4+ / 0-)

    hottest July - and we smashed it by about 1.5 deg F.

    Romney economics: Feed our seed corn to the fattest pigs and trust them to poop out jobs.

    by blue aardvark on Wed Aug 08, 2012 at 12:36:05 PM PDT

  •  I have to admit (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel, John Crapper

    I never thought our overlords would get so cavalier about the food supply.  That's usually what gets the peasants to revolt.

  •  Mount Olympus ice free (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    John Crapper

    I never learned to embed, here is a photo link

    There's no such thing as a free market!

    by Albanius on Wed Aug 08, 2012 at 05:07:39 PM PDT

  •  Average July temps, 1936 vs 2012: (0+ / 0-)

    Of course there are all sorts of arguments about the specifics of the data series and adjustments thereto.  This is from NOAA NCDC:

    State         1936         2012

    Montana         74.7         71.4
    N. Dakota     79.7         73.8
    S. Dakota     83.8         78.8
    Minnesota     76.2         74.4
    Wisconsin     74.8         74.7
    Nebraska     83.1         80.0
    Iowa         82.7         79.4
    Kansas         85.1         84.3
    Oklahoma     85.8         85.5
    Missouri         84.9         83.7
    Illinois         83.1         81.7
    Indiana         80.9         80.2
    Mississippi     82.0         81.8
    California         76.3          75.0

    Where are we, now that we need us most?

    by Frank Knarf on Wed Aug 08, 2012 at 06:57:12 PM PDT

    •  Cherry pick and watch the Olympics! n/t (0+ / 0-)

      If we really want to straighten out all this crap we need to really think about shit!

      by John Crapper on Wed Aug 08, 2012 at 07:09:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Your anti-science gamesmanship (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      John Crapper

      is well beyond 'not amusing'

      From the linked Berenstein article:

      The average temperature last month was 77.6 degrees. That breaks the old record from July 1936 by 0.2 degree, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Records go back to 1895.

      "It's a pretty significant increase over the last record," said climate scientist Jake Crouch of NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. In the past, skeptics of global warming have pointed to the Dust Bowl to argue that recent heat isn't unprecedented. But Crouch said this shows that the current year "is out and beyond those Dust Bowl years. We're rivaling and beating them consistently from month to month."

      Three of the nation's five hottest months on record have been recent Julys: This year, 2011 and 2006. Julys in 1936 and 1934 round out the top five.

      Do you think you actually add something to a reality based discussion?

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Wed Aug 08, 2012 at 07:12:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Something wrong with the data? Point out the (0+ / 0-)

        mistakes and I'll correct the list.

        Since the climate has clearly been warming over the period covered by surface records, an interesting question is what caused the very warm temperatures in the 1930s.  As you point out with your quote, 2 of the 5 warmest months on record happened then, and these national averages mask the extraordinary heat experienced in parts of the country during the dust bowl.  NOAA has informative graphics showing the state averages.

        http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/...

        Enter the year and month to compare.

         The satellite lower troposphere data is a better indicator of global warming, with better coverage and none of the issues that distort land surface temperature series.  Unfortunately it only covers 1979-present.

        Where are we, now that we need us most?

        by Frank Knarf on Wed Aug 08, 2012 at 09:22:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Several things ... (0+ / 0-)

          1.  You are comparing United States with globe.  1936 was not "global" in terms of disruption.

          2.  The point is not correction of cherry-picked data.

          Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

          by A Siegel on Thu Aug 09, 2012 at 03:13:58 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  How about ... (0+ / 0-)

          I could selectively chose January days warmer than May days to 'show' that spring is colder than winter.  That is the equivalent of the cherry-picking game that you do here and the sort of faux skeptic gamesmanship that you do oh so often throughout your commentary in climate change related discussions.  You are not interested in truthful discussion but in fostering confusion.

          Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

          by A Siegel on Thu Aug 09, 2012 at 11:00:29 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  What a great analogy and soo timely! n/t (0+ / 0-)

    If we really want to straighten out all this crap we need to really think about shit!

    by John Crapper on Wed Aug 08, 2012 at 07:14:44 PM PDT

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