Monday, July 9, 2012

The Heat Is On... And So Is Climate Change.

Have you heard? The heat is on this week! Las Vegas will be suffering extreme heat (even for us... 112 is HOT!) for the next 3 days.

And have you heard? There's been an extreme heatwave crippling the Eastern Seaboard and Midwest for several days now. While they're finally starting to see some relief, this new heatwave is arriving here in the West.

And have you heard? There's more to this than meets the eye. Despite some DC pundits stubbornly refuse to recognize reality, the rest of us can't afford that luxury.

When I flipped on MSNBC yesterday morning, I was moved by Chris Hayes' opening segment (on his weekend talk show, "Up").

Yep, it's really that bad. We are already feeling the effects of extreme climate change. While heatwaves often occur during the summer, we've never before seen the extreme hot, the extreme cold, the extreme hurricanes, the extreme tornadoes, the extreme wildfires, and all the other instances of extreme weather that are increasingly becoming "the new normal".

Don't believe me? Look at the growing body of evidence. This has never before been "normal". But going forward, it will be. And that's downright frightening.

Speaking at a university forum today in Australia, Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said Americans are increasingly connecting the dots between climate change and the severe heat, drought, wildfires, and storms hitting the country.

The Associated Press reported on her comments, made at the University of Canberra: “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.

Lubchenco’s comments are backed up by actual research. According to a recent poll conducted by the National Survey of American Public Opinion on Climate Change, an increase in extreme weather has increased Americans’ understanding of climate change —bringing public acceptance of the problem to the highest level since 2009.

Much damage has already been done, but action is still sorely needed to prevent a true global catastrophe. While we often discuss the the immense economic benefits of investing in renewable energy and better energy conservation, there's another reason why we must do more to transition away from dirty fossil fuels. If you want to see that reason, then just step outside today.

We need to take action. And we need to do it NOW. Otherwise, our future will be up in smoke.

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