Americans are catching on to the concept of anthropogenic global warming, finally. That's mainly because from the Colorado wildfires to the sustained drought across the southwest to the flooding of the midwest and the extended heatwave of the eastern seaboard to "pre-season" tornadoes, they're up to their eyeballs in climate change reality.
Many Americans had previously seen climate change as a "nebulous concept" removed from them in time and geography, said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration chief Jane Lubchenco.
"Many people around the world are beginning to appreciate that climate change is under way, that it's having consequences that are playing out in real time and, in the United States at least, we are seeing more and more examples of extreme weather and extreme climate-related events," Lubchenco told a university forum in the Australian capital of Canberra.
"People's perceptions in the United States at least are in many cases beginning to change as they experience something first-hand that they at least think is directly attributable to climate change," she said.
She said her agency was experiencing "skyrocketing" demand for climate change data and projections from individuals, businesses, communities and planners across the United States.
CBS News reports that more than half of the United States is now experiencing moderate to extreme drought.
Just under 56 percent of the contiguous United States is in drought conditions,
the most extensive area in the 12-year history of the U.S. Drought Monitor. The
previous drought records occurred on Aug. 26, 2003, when 54.79 percent of the
lower 48 were in drought and on Sept 10, 2002, when drought extended across
54.63 percent of this area.
The New York Daily News reports that the ongoing heatwave and drought are wreaking havoc across the United States.
Fueled by a record-breaking heat wave and unusually low rainfall, drought is wreaking havoc on people’s lives all over the U.S. In small towns, roads are buckling from the heat. In farm country, corn growers are getting worried about their crops. In the Western states, wildfires have been blazing for weeks. And in cities, people could face drinking water shortages as reservoirs dry up, experts say.
While our typically mild summer is just arriving here out on the west coast, the east is enduring its own heatwave conditions with 11-high temperature records set in Ontario yesterday. The biggest change, however, the one reflecting climate change, is the narrowing of the dirunal spread between the daily high and overnight low temperatures. Night time temperatures are staying ever closer to daytime highs which means more retained heat to start the following day.
In the Montreal region, lake and river levels are at 10-year lows, the result of an unusually warm Spring.
“What’s happening right now is we’re paying the price for the abnormally warm weather we saw towards the end of March,” said Marc Beauchemin, a climatologist with Environment Canada.
“The rapid snow melt we saw put our seasons into fast forward and the water levels we’re seeing right now are the kind we would typically see in mid August.
"What’s slightly more dramatic is that we’re not expecting much rain in the coming weeks, which means the water levels will keep sinking.”
Meanwhile Britain is bracing for more severe flooding with the Met Office calling for one-day rainfall equivalent to normal monthly accumulations across much of England and Scotland. Brits are being warned today could be the wettest day of the summer.
78 are reported dead from floods and mudslides in the Black Sea region of Russia. Once again, a month's worth of rain fell in a few hours. Northeast India is enduring the worst monsoon flooding in a decade with 105 dead already reported. China, the eastern party of which is experiencing heat wave conditions similar to America's, is also being hit by widespread flooding.
Welcome to the new reality. Call it what you like, that doesn't matter, but it's time we had a national, grown-up conversation about this.