Massive snowstorms helped ring out the old and ring in the new over the past few weeks in the Eastern USA. In mid-December, flooding and mudslides washed away parts of Los Angeles and over the past few weeks we watch as similar devastating events have taken place in Brazil and Australia. What’s going on? As the world literally cries helpless tears, an eager freshman class of politicians in Washington tries to jumpstart Congress by handcuffing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). (For a more detailed look at what’s happening in Washington, check out what our friends at Climate Counts have to say.)
Global warming critics are quick to jump on the megaphone as soon as the snow hits the ground…..no global warming! Last year around this time Senator Inhofe used a mega snowstorm in the DC area to proclaim global warming “dead” and proceeded to build an igloo in Al Gore’s honor. Lets take a deep breath and step back and look at some of the ‘weather’ highlights from 2010, and the long term trends as reported by real and credible climate scientists the world over.
At your next cocktail party, book club or hockey game, when your friends start questioning you on the crazy weather and asking you to explain what massive snow storms have to do with climate change, check out the facts below and help set them straight.
1. This week in the USA, NASA and NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Organization) reported that 2010 is tied with 2005 as the hottest year in recorded history (hottest on BOTH the land and the sea). It is also the wettest year on record.
2. As our climate warms, evaporation increases. This results in more water vapor in the air. The extra moisture produces more precipitation, including more extreme weather events. In areas favorable to snowfall conditions, this will cause more heavy snowstorms. (Source: Skeptical Science)
3. As stated by NASA: “The difference between weather and climate is a measure of time. Weather is what conditions of the atmosphere are over a short period of time and climate is how the atmosphere “behaves” over relatively long periods of time.
4. In addition to 2010 being tied for the hottest year on record globally, 9 of the 10 hottest years on record have occurred since 2001. Least we forget, this summer 17 countries reported their highest temperatures ever. Russia experienced a once in “1000” year heat wave, and to add to the record flooding currently taking place in Australia and South America, Pakistan and China were also wracked with horrible flooding this summer which displacing millions of people.
On a lighter note, and for something you can share with the kids in your life, check out the Union of Concerned Scientists new game, “Who’s got the Power?”