Whence the Wacky Weather?

Is this wacky weather normal? Or is this caused in part by all the stuff we put in the atmosphere? You guessed it! We are doing this to ourselves!

June 2012 was the warmest month on record in North America. July is on pace to exceed June. Here in the Northeast, we have been spared the searing triple digit heat waves that everyone from Denver to Washington DC has experienced. But we have had wave after wave of intense “precipitation events” like last night’s storm.

Is this wacky weather normal? Or is this caused in part by all the stuff we put in the atmosphere?

Two years ago I wrote a book that summarized what scientists knew then with a high degree of certainty about the growing human impact on climate. The news was grim. Since then, the climate disruption news has only grown worse, as the scientific findings have grown even stronger. 

What did we expect? In 2009, when 167 countries met in Copenhagen, the two nations responsible for 40% of global carbon emissions, the United States and China, committed no one to anything to curb emissions.

As Bill McKibben writes in the current issue of Rolling Stone,

“If the pictures of those towering wildfires in Colorado haven't convinced you, or the size of your AC bill this summer, here are some hard numbers about climate change: June broke or tied 3,215 high-temperature records across the United States.”

For the history of the U.S Drought Monitor, which began in 1999, this summer we have the largest spatial extent of drought on record: almost 64% of the contiguous US experienced drought conditions last week.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture to declared more than 1,000 counties in 26 states natural disaster areas effective July 12, 2012, establishing the largest natural-disaster area in U.S. history.

Earlier this month, the National Climatic Data Center released the 2011 State of the Climate, a peer-reviewed report complied by 378 scientists from 48 countries around the world. This annual summary of global climate events is full of stuff that data hounds like me adore. For example,

“In 2011, oceans were saltier in already drier areas and fresher in already rainy areas, indicating an increase in the global water cycle.” 

In plain English, more water is moving through the atmosphere so dry areas (like the American Southwest) are becoming drier and wet areas (like New England or Florida) are becoming wetter.

The mounting evidence suggests that nothing else explains the disruption of climate patterns except the human activity of burning fossil fuel, paving our world, wiping out forest and jungles, and polluting vast volumes of water.

Not sun spots, not rotational wiggles of the Earth, not El Niño or La Niña–just plain old modern fossil fuel based civilization, as we know it, is the chief culprit.

McKibben goes on to explain that our Earth is one big connected system:

“A third of summer sea ice in the Arctic is gone, the oceans are 30 percent more acidic, and since warm air holds more water vapor than cold, the atmosphere over the oceans is a shocking five percent wetter, loading the dice for devastating floods.” Read more

A report published in Science this week shows how the intense summer thunderstorms–like the one we had last night–pump water higher into the upper atmosphere than was known before.

Why does that matter? Put on your sun block! 

Strong thunder storms send moisture so high that this water content is mixing with aerosols we dumped there for decades (such CFCs and refrigerant gases, now banned on the ground, but still lingering above). This moisture arrives in the ozone layer of our atmosphere–normally drier than a desert–where its sets up new chemical reactions, weakening the ozone layer that protects us from ultraviolet light rays.  So now a link appears to be emerging between thunder storms, skin cancer rates and ozone warnings. Who knew?!

Bottom line, I highly recommend McKibben's very readable article!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

bruiser July 30, 2012 at 12:08 AM
Issy i forgot to give the site before please accept my apology(I was in a hurry) LOL http://www.visionlearning.com/library/module_viewer.php?mid=95 This is the site from my earlier post.
Teleman July 30, 2012 at 01:12 AM
Oh, 4 centuries in over 4.5 billion years- ok, now I'm convinced.
Mike Rodriques July 30, 2012 at 01:31 AM
Aidan; This isn't a liberal issue, nor is it a conservative issue. It's a national security issue, and we should all be looking for a solution rather than blaming it on the people we don't like.
Aidan July 30, 2012 at 01:36 AM
Mike, I don't agree with you. I can't find the same drama you do. Sorry.
Dan Thaler July 30, 2012 at 09:55 AM
Atmospheric temperature rise correlates directly with the increased release of co2 since man began burning fossil fuels. Don't take my word for it. Do your own research.
Walden Macnair July 30, 2012 at 01:36 PM
I can't believe that otherwise intelligent people would be having this debate. How can man not have an impact on climate change? Millenniums ago, nature began removing the carbon from the air and burying it deep in the ground. After enough carbon was removed, the earth began to cool and life became possible. Now man is digging deep into the earth and burning all that locked up carbon which was stored as coal and oil, thus releasing carbon back into the atmosphere and raising the levels of CO2 which is slowly returning us to a warmer earth. It's all really quite simple and only gets mucked up when organizations that want us to continue burning fossil fuels try to convince us that all is well. Folks, all is not well. We are destroying our planet and it's the only one we've got.
Pat Godfrey July 30, 2012 at 07:28 PM
Global warming is junk science. The study where these assertions started in England have been debunked. This was shown thru their own e-mails they sent to each other admitting they were presenting false information. It's amazing how this information always leads to more government regulation, less jobs, more power and control over the common citizen. Bigger government is the goal here. Power hungry people want to tell you how to live your lives and global warming is another vehicle in which they plan to do that.
bergerissuingdobbs July 30, 2012 at 08:06 PM
hahaha. I kind of agree and have come up with a new theory to get me through the day. Lets just say, that maybe global warming is saving us all and the earth because we are really supposed to be in another ice age. HA, I came up with that w/o even smoking first - Im proud.
bergerissuingdobbs July 30, 2012 at 08:06 PM
Guns don't kill. Soda Kills.
RivertownsMark July 31, 2012 at 12:56 AM
Pat -The junk science is that offered by deniers. Relesed by ice, soalr cycle, etc. What 99% of all scientists (every single scientific society in the WORLD) agrees is that climate change is underway and humans are the major contributors. The fake British "scandal" you refer to was debunked (http://www.skepticalscience.com/Climategate-CRU-emails-hacked.htm) in NINE different investigations. What you are proposing is that the entire scientific community is colluding - and that shows you have no idea how science works or what the evidence is. You may find the science unnerving (you clearly do), but that doesn't make it wrong. When 99% of the - global - scientific community tells me something, I'm inclined to believe it over the website funded by a oil company. Just saying. Science doesn't have a liberal bias. Science is.
Leo Wiegman July 31, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Just in case anyone was wondering what the public thinks at large, the polls show a rising belief among Americans that there is a connection between human activity and disruptions in our environment from weather to potable water and more: http://environment.yale.edu/climate/files/Extreme-Weather-Climate-Preparedness.pdf For a webpage that keeps track of polls about climate change: http://www.usclimatenetwork.org/hot-topics/climate-polling/
Mary July 31, 2012 at 03:20 PM
The Great Global Warming Swindle... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ov0WwtPcALE
Wonderboy July 31, 2012 at 03:28 PM
It's Obama's fault, ever since he was voted in, there's been nothing really good happening on this planet.
Francis T McVetty July 31, 2012 at 03:46 PM
@Dr. Susan Rubin, if the government keeps letting the EPA continue to run hog wild with its endless making of new rules and regulations, there will be no more farms as we know them. Farmers are going out of business every day. Restrictions upon restrictions. Keep making fuel for vehicles out of corn.That certainly was a bright idea , wasn't it? Another hair brained idea from the "government". Why would anyone want to take away from our food supply in order to run vehicles with it?
Francis T McVetty July 31, 2012 at 04:07 PM
@issy ,When at its farthest, Mars is approximately 249,209,300 km / 154.8 million miles or 1.665861 AU* from the Sun. When at its the nearest, it is approximately 206,669,000 km / 128.4 million miles or 1.381497 AU* from the Sun. Earth: When the Earth is at its closest point to the Sun, which astronomers call perihelion, it’s only 147 million km. And when the Earth is at its furthest point from the Sun, astronomers call this aphelion. At this point, Earth is 152 million km from the Sun.
Francis T McVetty July 31, 2012 at 04:43 PM
@Wonderboy, we can now stop blaming Bush and blame Obama instead?
Issy July 31, 2012 at 05:31 PM
Are you serious? The movie was completely dishonest, it fabricated data and only used data collected prior to 1964,ignoring the mountains of current data showing global warming. The lead scientist involved in the movie sued the director for misrepresentation and editing out their affirmation of man-made global warming. How about presenting real science rather than utter nonsense.
Mary July 31, 2012 at 05:49 PM
Issy July 31, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Wow, so a weatherman with no college education whatsoever,who is funded by Exxon Mobil to spread disinformation is more credible in your eyes than 97% of climate scientists,every university, every climate facility and every scientific journal. Mary, please tell me you are not that gullible?
Mary August 01, 2012 at 09:56 AM
According to Bill Gates and the rest of the control freaks, the problem that is going to cause all this major catastrophe is carbon emissions...there are just too many people on the planet letting out all that carbon dioxide... how are we going to reduce the number by 10-15%? Answer: By doing a really good job with vaccines of course... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUJMR3BUm2s Don't you wonder why Bill Gates is even one of the leaders of this discussion?
Mary August 01, 2012 at 10:08 AM
John Coleman, founder of the Weather Channel, debunks global warming, now known as climate change... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cz38L6K7Ekk&feature=related
Issy August 01, 2012 at 10:20 AM
Mary, global warming and climate change are two different things. Global warming is a fact, the earth is warming. Climate Change is the study of the changing climate as a result of global warming or other factors. And please another weatherman?
Mary August 01, 2012 at 10:46 AM
Issy: If the proponents of climate change can have a computer programmer discussing the catastrophes of climate change, we can use weather people (just want to be PC)...who better to discuss the changes in our climate? Looking forward to your response on Bill Gates' video.
Issy August 01, 2012 at 11:06 AM
Who better? Maybe climate scientists. You do understand the difference between climate and weather don't you Mary? People like Gates and Gore are the talking-heads,what matters is the actual science conducted by real scientists (like our own at Lamont Doherty) not weatherman paid by big oil. And until you understand that you and other close minded deniers will remain ignorant. It is the SCIENCE that matters. Bill Gates is referring to the fact that populations with better health care have lower birth rates and lower infant mortality. Through vaccines and better health care we can reduce the world's population by negating the need for large families in third world countries.
Mary August 01, 2012 at 11:43 AM
Issy...please enlighten me... I need further explanation of your last paragraph: According to you...Better health care = lower birth rates = lower infant mortality = reduction in population (which is the goal as stated by Bill Gates 10-15%)...that just doesn't compute... Lower infant mortality would be an increase in population...not decrease. You also state that...."Through vaccines and better health we can reduce the world's population by negating the need for large families in third world countries" Why not just say that they are pushing contraception and abortions in third world countries for population control? http://www.torontosun.com/news/canada/2010/03/30/13411076.html Weathermen paid by big oil?...need some backup on that one...
Mary August 01, 2012 at 11:53 AM
Issy: Who are the climate scientists? Why aren't they the spokespeople (PC) for climate change instead of Al Gore, Michael Moore and Bill Gates?
Issy August 01, 2012 at 12:33 PM
Not at all. A major reason for large families in poorer countries is survivability. The larger the number of children the better chance of one or two surviving to take care of older relatives. Countries with better health care have lower birth rates and thus lower population growth.
Issy August 01, 2012 at 12:47 PM
Some scientists prefer to just do the research and publish papers others are outspoken, a good example is NASA's James Hansen. Remember the objection to global warming is not based on science, but politics so it is not surprising to see the Gore's and Gate's coming out in support of action. I would urge you to ignore the talk-heads on both sides of the subject and actually research the science supporting climate change... here is a start. http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/news-events/ocean-acidification-rate-may-be-unprecedented-study-says
Issy August 01, 2012 at 12:57 PM
John Coleman and Anthony Watts work for the Heartland Institute which is a front for amongst others Exxon Mobil. http://sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Anthony_Watts I have answered your questions, how about one of mine? Why would you believe unqualified weatherman and politicians over real scientists who do actually do the research and publish peer review papers?
Portia Torte August 02, 2012 at 02:29 PM
Google "how many trees to provide oxygen for one person", and one answer is "It requires 22 trees to produce the amount of oxygen consumed by one person." So do the math for however many people there are in the world, then compare to how Brazil, etc. are cutting down trees for "civilization". This may be why we have elevated levels of CO2 (if that really is the case). No one seems to criticize "emerging nations" for cutting trees and destroying the oxygen supply. Yet the UN and others want US to pay carbon credits to fund the destruction. Sounds like corruption to me.


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