The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during July was 77.6°F, 3.3°F above the 20th century average, marking the hottest July and the hottest month on record for the nation.Which would not, in itself, necessarily be that important if it weren't part of the continuing trend that last week led James Hansen, the director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies to write:
In a new analysis of the past six decades of global temperatures, which will be published Monday, my colleagues and I have revealed a stunning increase in the frequency of extremely hot summers, with deeply troubling ramifications for not only our future but also for our present.The study itself can be downloaded here, and it confirmed the early July joint report by the NCDC and Britain's Met Office that tied extreme weather to climate change. And if Hansen is right about the data soon tying this summer's extreme heat to climate change, that would have to include the June drought that enveloped an unprecedented 56 percent of the contiguous United States, putting at risk the national food supply. But then the scientific consensus on climate change long has been widely and well established. Indeed, when the Koch-funded climate change skeptic Richard Muller recently reversed course, concluding that human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases are indeed causing global warming, leading climate scientist Michael Mann sardonically noted:
This is not a climate model or a prediction but actual observations of weather events and temperatures that have happened. Our analysis shows that it is no longer enough to say that global warming will increase the likelihood of extreme weather and to repeat the caveat that no individual weather event can be directly linked to climate change. To the contrary, our analysis shows that, for the extreme hot weather of the recent past, there is virtually no explanation other than climate change.
The deadly European heat wave of 2003, the fiery Russian heat wave of 2010 and catastrophic droughts in Texas and Oklahoma last year can each be attributed to climate change. And once the data are gathered in a few weeks’ time, it’s likely that the same will be true for the extremely hot summer the United States is suffering through right now.
Muller's announcement last year that the Earth is indeed warming brought him up to date w/ where the scientific community was in the the 1980s. His announcement this week that the warming can only be explained by human influences, brings him up to date with where the science was in the mid 1990s. At this rate, Muller should be caught up to the current state of climate science within a matter of a few years!As I wrote over a year ago:
Is it hyperbole to call climate change the most important issue humanity has ever faced? Do other issues even compare when climate change itself encompasses almost all of them? How important are the issues of war and mass violence and human rights? The geopolitical consequences of climate change are almost unimaginable. There will be droughts and losses of vegetation, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has warned of potentially catastrophic impacts on food production. Imagine 200 million people displaced, worldwide. Where will they go? How will they survive? How will the less endangered people and governments cope with such an unprecedented torrent of refugees? Think of the reactionary xenophobia already resulting from immigration in the United States. Consider that the wonder of Europe's open internal travel is about to end, as nations there prepare to close their borders, as their own reactionary response to the increasing numbers of refugees fleeing the violence in revolutionary North Africa and the Middle East.And this is why the politics is so desperately important. Because in the face of such overwhelming science about such an unprecedented global threat, the Republicans continue to deny reality, and their 2012 standard-bearer Mitt Romney has done his usual flip-flop, here into the standard climate change denial that plays so well with his anti-science Republican base. Additionally, Romney's newly announced running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, is a climate change denying conspiracy theorist, and Romney's campaign spokesperson Andrea Saul was part of Exxon's war on climate science. On this most critical of issues, there is a profoundly substantive difference between Romney and President Obama, and between Republicans and Democrats.
Does health care matter? How will nations cope as climate change expands the territories of everything from dangerous diseases to deadly insects? One need only consider the effects of record tornados and increasingly severe hurricanes to begin to realize the human costs of climate disasters. And then there are the impacts on forests and ocean acidification, the latter threatening the base of the marine food chain, and all whose livlihoods or lives depend upon it. Back on land, the disruptions to agriculture could undermine the food supplies for billions.
If all this isn't enough, and for those that care only about money, the economy often is an excuse for doing little or nothing about climate change. The presumption is that what's good for the environment is bad for the economy. It's another of the fundamental lies used by the narrow special interests whose riches do indeed depend on harming not helping. But however politically dominant the fossil fuels industries may be, their business strength does not translate into wider economic strength or even stability. Climate change is an economic crisis.
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If the human emissions of greenhouse gases is the cause of the problem, the solution obviously involves humans stopping emitting greenhouse gases, and that would involve the rapid development of alternative sources of energy that don't emit greenhouse gases. On Tuesday, the Obama Administration announced plans to do exactly that:
Today, as a part of his We Can’t Wait initiative, President Obama announced that seven nationally and regionally significant solar and wind energy projects will be expedited, including projects in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Wyoming. Together, these job-creating infrastructure projects would produce nearly 5,000 megawatts (MW) of clean energy – enough to power approximately 1.5 million homes, and support the President’s all-of-the-above strategy to expand American made energy. As a part of a Presidential Executive Order issued in March of this year, the Office of Management and Budget is charged with overseeing a government-wide effort to make the permitting and review process for infrastructure projects more efficient and effective, saving time while driving better outcomes for the environment and local communities. Additional expedited infrastructure projects will be announced in the coming weeks.And almost as important as the specifics of the plan is the title of the initiative, because the reality is that we can't wait. But not only does Mitt Romney not accept the reality, much less the urgency of doing something about, climate change, on alternative energy he continues to do what he always does: flip—flop—lie. On this issue, as on so many issues, Romney displays neither understanding nor principle, and only fumbles around looking for a position that is politically expedient. To Romney, other than making himself wealthier, political policies just don't matter. Even policies that address a crisis that could not matter more.
As Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid this week explained:
The seriousness of this problem is not lost on your average American. A large majority of people finally believe climate change is real, and that it is the cause of extreme weather. Yet despite having overwhelming evidence and public opinion on our side, deniers still exist, fueled and funded by dirty energy profits.And President Obama and the Democrats intend to act today. For the future. For all of us. Mitt Romney and the Republicans not only don't intend to act, they don't even accept the scientific reality. It is almost incomprehensible. As former President Bill Clinton said last year:
These people aren't just on the other side of this debate. They're on the other side of reality.
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.
Virtually every respected, independent scientist in the world agrees the problem is real, and the time to act is now. Not tomorrow. Not a week from now. Not next month or next year. We must act today.
I mean, it makes us — we look like a joke, right? You can’t win the nomination of one of the major parties in the country if you admit that the scientists are right? That disqualifies you from doing it?Which is why we the voters must disqualify that major party from having any political responsibility or power. Because on this as on so many issues, the Republicans are almost incomprehensibly irresponsible in the exercise of political power. As the much maligned and repeatedly vindicated Michael Mann wrote on Monday, in response to the new report by Hansen:
The time for debate about the reality of human-caused climate change has now passed. We can have a good faith debate about how to deal with the problem – how to reduce future climate change and adapt to what is already upon us to reduce the risks that climate change poses to society. But we can no longer simply bury our heads in the sand.But for some inexplicable combination of reasons, Romney and the Republicans want us to bury our heads in the sand. But thinking people ought to be able to understand that facing an unprecedented global crisis by burying our heads in the sand will lead to the most severe consequences.