U.S. weather: Hot, dry, stormy
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Jan 08, 2013 | 3674 views |  0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A barge powers its way up the Mississippi River in St. Louis. According to Coast Gard officials Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012, the Mississippi River level is dropping again and could get so low as early as next week that some barge operators will stop operating. Photo: Jeff Roberson/Associated Press/File
A barge powers its way up the Mississippi River in St. Louis. According to Coast Gard officials Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012, the Mississippi River level is dropping again and could get so low as early as next week that some barge operators will stop operating. Photo: Jeff Roberson/Associated Press/File
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Climate-change deniers get caught up in the ebbs-and-flows of weather. Summers are supposed to be hot, deniers say, and they are. But more often than not, our winters are cold, it snows regularly in most U.S. regions but the South, and uncharacteristic changes around the globe are merely part of Earth’s long-range weather patterns, they say.

Then there are facts.

Last year was the hottest year on record in the history of U.S. record-keeping, government scientists confirmed Tuesday. The average annual U.S. temperature rose to 55.32 degrees Fahrenheit — a full degree hotter than the old record set in 1998.

Meteorological laymen, as most of us are, should take note: Scientists say such an increase is unparalleled; most increases are measured in tenths of a degree.

“A picture is emerging of a world with more extreme heat,” Andrew Dessler, a climate scientist at Texas A&M University, told the Associated Press. “Not every year will be hot, but when heat weaves do occur, the heat will be more extreme. People need to begin to prepare for that future.”

In essence, Tuesday marked a turning point for those who believe global warming is either a hoax or an overblown miniscule occurrence that liberal scientists are pushing through the mainstream media.

The climate is changing. The data is clear.

On average, the average annual temperatures are rising. It doesn’t mean 2013’s temperatures won’t drop to a more normal range. But the long-range trends are there. (According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S.’s annual temperature has trended up 1.3 degrees in the last century.).

Likewise, climate change is fueling oddities in extreme weather, too. Climate change is just that — changes in storms’ severity, frequency, length, location and size. Any combination of that can be lethal, whether it’s wrought by a Katrina, an Irene, an April 27, 2011, or a Sandy.

It doesn’t mean every year will bring increased numbers of extreme storms. But when they do occur, the chances that they’ll be severe will increase. Besides being the hottest year on record in the United States, 2012 brought the worst drought since the 1950s — not quite as bad as the Dust Bowl of the 1930s — and the second-most weather extremes on record.

Vital to this discussion is how man responds to this irrefutable data. Unless we’re OK with a warming planet, politics and business concerns have to be mitigated and substantial long-range planning is imperative. Tuesday’s data is all that’s needed.
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