Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Welcome to the New Planet Earth

A lot of Americans will be spending this 4th of July indoors, at home.   At least those who still have electricity and air conditioning perhaps.  

Reuters reports that scorching heat and extreme dry conditions are causing plenty of cities and towns across the U.S. to cancel 4th of July fireworks displays.

In places from Montana to Tennessee, communities have canceled or restricted fireworks celebrations. Others have banned pyrotechnics or advised residents to exercise caution with everything from sparklers to barbecue grills because of the soaring temperatures and dry conditions.

"All it would take is one spark from a shell to get away, and it could go everywhere," said Bruce Jones, the mayor of Douglas, Wyoming, where the annual fireworks display has been called off for the first time in memory. "It's the better part of valor not to do it."

And it seems the heat waves, wildfires and freak storms have finally emboldened climate scientists to proclaim that, yes, these are the effects of global warming, they're here to stay and there's plenty more to come.

"...the run of extreme weather offers real-time proof of the consequences of climate change, said Kevin Trenberth, who heads climate research at the National Centre for Atmospheric Research in Colorado – itself the scene of devastating wildfires.

"'We are certainly seeing climate change in action,' he said. 'This year has been exceptionally unusual throughout the United States.'

Jeff Masters director of meteorology at the Weather Underground website, told Democracy Now: 'What we're seeing now is the future. We're going to be seeing a lot more weather like this, a lot more impacts like we're seeing from this series of heat waves, fires and storms.'

He added: 'This is just the beginning.'

"...Since the start of the year, the United States set more than 40,000 hot temperature records and fewer than 6,000 cold temperature records, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"Ordinarily, scientists would expect those numbers to be about the same [a roughly equal number of high to low-temperature records], but the hot temperature records were falling at a ratio of about 7-1."

It will be fascinating to watch now long the U.S. Congress, bought and paid for minions of Big Fossil, can hold out and continue to reject any linkage between these extreme weather events and global warming.   Climate change is imposing great stresses on large parts of the United States and they're somewhat cumulative.    These stresses are being compounded by America's overall excessive ecological footprint.   This chart shows the environmental footprint of the average American measured against the country's biocapacity.   Climate change impacts such as extended droughts and floods are reducing America's biocapacity.   Something has to give.

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