The temperature’s cooling, the power is back on in Washington, D.C., the fires are almost out in Colorado and they’ve almost cleaned up from the flooding in Florida.
So naturally, those who continue to deny (at the peril of the rest of us) the connection between climate change and extreme weather disasters are once again raising their heads and raising their voices.
Sen. Jim Inhofe, the igloo-building, oil-state politician who recently authored a book proclaiming global warming is a hoax, used the Senate floor as a stage to do just that on Wednesday. Columnist George Will used the airwaves over the weekend to say that prolonged record high temperatures and the hottest year on record just means it’s summer – get over it.
Who to believe?
How about climate scientists like Thomas Karl, director of NOAA's National Climatic Data Center, who oversaw a just-released study connecting climate change and man-made greenhouse gases to severe weather. (Read more here: http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/cmb/bams-sotc/2011/webinar-briefing-slides.pdf or read below for the highlights).
“We believe there is an important human component explaining these record-breaking temperatures, and that's the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,” Thomas told PBS News’ Judy Woodruff.
Or how about the USDA official who oversees the U.S. Forest Service, whose firefighters are on the front lines in Colorado and elsewhere?
“The climate is changing, and these fires are a very strong indicator of that,” USDA Undersecretary Harris Sherman told the Washington Post.
Or maybe meteorologist Sam Champion, weather editor of ABC News:
“If you want my opinion … now’s the time that we start limiting man made greenhouse gases,” Champion told ABC World News Anchor Diane Sawyer.
Perhaps instead of listening to politicians like Sen. Inhofe who want us to believe they know more than experts, we should listen to the 378 scientists from 48 countries who just released NOAA’s State of the Climate study that clearly connects 2011’s weather extremes to the dramatic increases in man-made greenhouse gases since the beginning of the Industrial Age.
According to the report, global warming created weather patterns which contributed to extreme severe weather events last year such as:
- The historic droughts in the Southern United States and Mexico
- Devastating floods in Brazil and Thailand
- Record destruction by tornadoes in the Midwest United States
- The longest cold snap in North Korea since 1945
- The most powerful tropical cyclone in Australia since 1918
Want more? NOAA scientists also found that last year:
- Globally averaged carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere surpassed 390 parts per million for the first time.
- Globally averaged heat stored in the top 2,300 feet of the oceans was the highest since records began in 1993.
- Global surface temperature has increased at a rate of about 0.31ºF per decade since 1980.
- September sea ice extent was second smallest since the satellite era began and old ice (4–5 years) reached record low: 81% below average.
That was last year.
This year, we’ve already faced record heat, freak storms and some of the worst droughts and fires this country has ever seen.
Listen to the experts.
Read the facts.
And then tell the climate change deniers to quit ignoring what’s happening, and start doing something about it.
This post originally appeared on NRDC's Switchboard blog.
Follow Bob Keefe on Twitter: www.twitter.com/bkeefee2