09/21/2010 09:38 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Good Riddance to the Worst Summer Ever

Yesterday was the official end of the summer of 2010. I, for one, say good riddance.

The Earth is telling us something, as illustrated in this video produced by NRDC, but too many politicians in Washington aren’t listening.

This was supposed to be the summer when we finally enacted a comprehensive law to steadily reduce emissions of heat-trapping pollution. Instead, all we got was more hot air. Literally.

As NRDC’s report shows, average nighttime low temperatures were the hottest ever recorded at nearly one in four U.S. weather stations in NOAA’s Historic Climatology Network.

But it’s not just the temperatures. Global warming is dangerously and permanently disrupting our climate. Because the atmosphere can hold more moisture as it warms, there is more rapid evaporation when it is dry and more intense rainfall when it is wet. The result is an increase in severe droughts and floods. And as we have seen this year in Russia, Pakistan, China, and the United States, the results can be tragic.

Monsoon-induced floods in Pakistan displaced more than six million people and destroyed one million homes.  In Russia, the worst heat and drought on record led to the loss of one-third of the wheat crop while rampant wild fires that consumed whole villages.  China was besieged by extreme rains leading to devastating mudslides while floods swept through Iowa and Tennessee killing 54 amidst searing, record-setting heat in other parts of the country. 

Unfortunately, the end of summer does not spell the end of climate consequences. As The New York Times reported today, coral reefs are undergoing what may be the worst global bleaching event ever. And we’re still in the midst of a record-shattering hurricane season, even though most of the storms have luckily stayed offshore so far.

I am enjoying the cooler nights these days, but one thing is for sure: politicians will produce a lot more hot air this fall.

This post originally appeared on NRDC's Switchboard blog