June heat, floods, fires–is it climate change?

This post by Joe Romm on Climate Progress confirms the link between the hottest June on record ever, on the mainland; the worst-ever forest fires in Colorado; and recent devastating floods in Minnesota–while also chastising the media for scarcely mentioning the role of climate change in these disastrous weather events. Be sure to read the comments on this post; the first commenter points to a chain of causes of the Colorado fires, also ignored by the media: They’ve had a pine beetle epidemic (caused by global warming) which kills the trees, providing plenty of dry wood to feed the flames and ignite when struck by lightning in the next storm. (Reminds me of that nursery rhyme: this is the pine beetle that ate the tree that fed the flames that were caused by the more frequent storms that came in the heat that global warming built.)

Romm quotes a Twin Cities meteorologist on the floods there: “People who say ‘you can’t link any one event with climate change’ are missing the point. Climate and weather are now hopelessly intertwined, linked — flip sides of the same coin. It’s basic physics: a warmer atmosphere holds more water vapor.  If there’s more water floating overhead you increase the potential for these extreme rainfall events. . . . ” See also Romm’s June 14 post in which a similar point was made by a climate analyst at NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research). A pull quote for you: “it’s unfortunate that the public is not associating these [events like the 2010 Nashville flood] with the fact that this is one manifestation of climate change.”

How will I balance this sensational story with some better news? If only I could say, people are making the connection and demanding coverage of climate change from their news outlets–and bold action from our leaders: are you listening, President Obama and Congress?

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