By now most of the debate about global Climate Change has settled down not to IF there is climate change, but WHY. Of course there will always be tin-foil hate wearers, but the science is pretty clear as noted above. One side of the debate says that the rapid acceleration timed to match the industrial revolution and modernization movements of the last century and a half … and the other side calls it part of the natural cycle. The ‘natural cycle’ folks are largely represented by and funded by companies with a vested interest in not changing the industrial and consumerist focus or instituting more regulations and represent trillions of dollars of interests … and the ‘man made’ side is represented by environmentalists, independent scientists and overstuffed politicians. Well, both sides are well represented by THOSE.
Anyway, in 2012 we heard again and again about how rapidly things are changing – and the rapid acceleration of ‘extreme weather events’ occuring on an annual basis. One huge example reported at National Geographic and the BBC was the incredibly rapid melting of the Arctic ice sheet of Greenland:
Melt maps from satellites show that on July 8, about 40 percent of the ice sheet’s surface had melted. By July 12 that figure had jumped to 97 percent.
The articles spoke of not just the acceleration of extreme events like super-hurricanes or tsunamis or ice melts, but also of the extreme warmth observed during the year. By mid year it was already being called the hottest year ever recorded.
And as we close out 2012, we get news from the NOAA ‘State of the Climate’ report that 2012 was the hottest year on record … by a LOT. Here is a synopsis from the LA Times:
In its annual report, State of the Climate, NOAA reported that the average annual temperature was 55.3 degrees — 3.3 degrees greater than the average temperature for the 20th century. It was also a full degree higher than the previous record-high temperature, set in 1998 — the biggest margin between two record-high temperatures to date.
Just how hot was 2012? It might seem difficult to think of it in terms of average temperatures – and 55 degrees doesn’t seem all that ‘hot’. But whereas the normal year-to-year change is in tenths of a degree, seeing a jump to a level a full degree higher than the previous record is just stunning. Also, people like to point to cold and snow to dispute climate change (search ‘the difference between climate and weather’ if this is you), so to put the temperature increase into perspective in terms of extremes:
34,008 daily high records were set at weather stations across the country, compared with only 6,664 record lows.
As we enter 2013 we continue to see unsettled weather everywhere and a record 61% of the country remains in drought conditions. 2012 might have set a record … but it is a prize no one wants to win, and is likely an indicator or more trouble ahead as we figure out what to do to stabilize the global climate.