We came across this image of recent precipitation patterns in the United States over the past thirty days (H/T ClimateCrocks.com) and it is pretty startling - check it out:
What this map reveals is the Western half of the continental United States consisting of two broad swaths of record drought bracketing an area of record rainfall - none of which is anything like “normal.”
The red in California has contributed to the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park that burned to an area greater than the size of New York City.
Dead center in that sea of purple lies the flooded cities and towns of Colorado.
This sort of “extreme” weather is becoming less extreme in the sense that it is far less rare and approaching the new normal.
For the full story, click on the map.
This just in - if you think July was hot, you’re right and you’re not alone!
WASHINGTON — July was the hottest month in the contiguous United States since record-keeping began in 1895, government scientists have said, a trend that meteorologists attribute to climate change.
The searing July heat contributed to a widening of troubling drought conditions, now affecting 63 percent of the nation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said Wednesday.
The average temperature in the contiguous United States – excluding Hawaii and Alaska – was 77.6 degrees Fahrenheit (25.3 Celsius), 3.3 degrees higher than the average for the entire 20th century, NOAA said.
The previous hottest July on record was July 1936, when the average temperature was 77.4 degrees.
The warm temperatures in July helped make the last 12 months the hottest on record in the United States, and contributed to a record-warm first seven months of the year, according to NOAA statistics.
The extreme heat and record dryness have created conditions ripe for wildfires, with more than two million acres (800,000 hectares) consumed in July, notably in Colorado.
California meanwhile had its fifth wettest July on record, and heavy rains were also seen in Nevada and along the western Gulf coast.
Kevin Trenberth, of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado, told AFP he was struck by how long the extreme heat had lasted.
“The fact that we are breaking records by so much and sustained for so long indicates that global warming is playing a role,” Trenberth said.
He said the El Nino and La Nina climate patterns were also to blame.
A recent analysis of the past six decades of global temperatures by a group of scientists from the US space agency NASA showed a “stunning increase in the frequency of extremely hot summers,” said one of the authors, James Hansen.
Hansen, who directs the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, has said human-driven climate change is to blame for a series of increasingly hot summers and the situation is already worse than was expected two decades ago.
“My projections about increasing global temperature have been proved true. But I failed to fully explore how quickly that average rise would drive an increase in extreme weather,” Hansen wrote in the Washington Post last week.
Hansen said the European heat wave of 2003, the Russian heat wave of 2010 and massive droughts in Texas and Oklahoma last year can each be attributed to climate change.
If a ballot initiative is known by the company it keeps, we should be just a teeny bit suspicious of Proposition 23, the Nov. 2 measure designed to eviscerate California’s new greenhouse gas regulation. The driving force behind the initiative is the oil industry, which has contributed more than $2.3 million to getting it passed. The biggest single contributor is San Antonio-based Valero Energy ($1.05 million, according to the latest state campaign disclosures), with San Antonio-based Tesoro Corp.in second place with $525,000.
So begins the latest piece from Michael Hiltzik at the LA Times and he is, once again, on to something. Just as with Prop 16 - the misleadingly labeled “Taxpayers Right to Vote Act” that was actually the “Protect Pacific Gas & Electric’s Monopoly” measure, Hiltzik reveals who is behind Prop 23 and explains why their motives might not be consistent with their rhetoric.
As folks who read this blog surely know, AB 32 is the California law that seeks to reduce our contribution to greenhouse gas emissions while making the state more attractive to green businesses (like this one) that represent the state’s economic future. Given that transportation is the single largest source of GHG emissions in the state, it is not surprising that oil companies might be concerned about a requirement to substantially reduce those emissions. Now the Texas oil companies seeking to block AB 32 may not be interested in hastening the emergence of a renewable, non-fossil-fuel based economy, but surely the rest of us are. Hopefully the voters will see through the deception and reject Prop 23, just as they rejected Prop 16 last month.
If you needed any more incentive than you already had, perhaps this will help. Today the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA) released a study of world-wide climate data and concluded that “Global warming is undeniable.” Analyzing data collected in 48 countries by more than 300 scientists, the NOAA report - titled State of the Climate in 2009 - concluded that “the past decade was the warmest on record and that the Earth has been growing warmer over the last 50 years.”
Apart from the climate change implications of implementing AB 32, it should be remembered that burning fossil fuels - particularly the gasoline peddled by those Texas oil companies - contributes to the creation of smog here in the LA Basin. Cutting back on those emissions will make all of us healthier, particularly those with asthma and other respiratory conditions. Indeed, when I was a child growing up in Alhambra during the 60’s, after lunchtime recess my classmates and I would come back to the classroom and cough repeatedly - such was the state of the air that I was breathing as a boy. We should not forget that the tremendous improvements in air quality here in LA came over the objections of the very same interests that now tell us we cannot afford to implement AB 32.
But they were wrong 40 years ago, just as they are certainly wrong now.