Home / Extreme Weather 2010: Coincidence or Nature’s Revenge?

Extreme Weather 2010: Coincidence or Nature’s Revenge?

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The U.S. bakes in the heat of another extreme season; Russia burns as the hottest temperatures recorded turn Moscow into a smoky cauldron. Peat bogs on fire threaten to release toxic amounts of carbon compounds into an atmosphere already on overload. One-fourth of a mammoth Greenland glacier calves into the Arctic sea, setting adrift an iceberg four times the size of Manhattan. Floods and landslides overwhelm China and Pakistan. Even the Russian prime minister has stopped scoffing at the notion of global warming.

Is this the scenario of a disaster movie like last year’s 2012? The Day After Tomorrow? Welcome to Summer 2010. And it’s only half over, folks. NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) reports that the first six months of 2010 were the warmest on record.noaa map

Despite the climate change deniers’ assertions that our unusually extreme and cold winter lies counter to any theories about global warming, the fact is, we are getting warmer as a planet. As for the cold winter just passed, think about it in terms of extremes: blizzards, intensely cold temperatures—record setters.

Many scientists assert that that these extreme weather systems (even blizzards) are because of, rather than despite, global warming. More destructive hurricanes, more frequent record-setting floods, increases in wildfires, downpours, tornadoes, droughts and deadly heat waves can be expected as the earth’s temperature rises.

Note particularly the extreme warming of the northern hemisphere and it’s easy to understand why the Arctic regions are melting away. (The ramifications of that are for another article.) Is 2010, as Jamie Henn of 350.org says, the year Nature strikes back

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is Publisher/Executive Editor of Blogcritics, (blogcritics.org). Her Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel, called "Anne Rice meets Michael Crichton," The Apothecary's Curse The Apothecary's Curse is now out from Pyr, an imprint of Prometheus Books. Her book on the TV series House, M.D., Chasing Zebras is a quintessential guide to the themes, characters and episodes of the hit show. Barnett is an accomplished speaker, an annual favorite at MENSA's HalloWEEM convention, where she has spoken to standing room crowds on subjects as diverse as "The Byronic Hero in Pop Culture," "The Many Faces of Sherlock Holmes," "The Hidden History of Science Fiction," and "Our Passion for Disaster (Movies)."
  • madfashionista

    Excellent article, says what needed to be said clearly and concisely. New York is broiling like a flank steak on the grill. Thank you for writing this.

  • There is really no way around the fact that these are interconnected events. Even the Russian leadership is finally beginning to understand. Sometimes things have to slap you right in the face to see.

  • One summer or winter of crazy weather proves nothing one way or the other. You have to look at the long-term trends – which are what really show that our climate is changing.

    A major predicted effect of global warming is that weather events such as droughts, hurricanes, floods and winter freezes are going to get either (a) more frequent, (b) more extreme, or (c) both.

    And that’s noticeably been the case during my lifetime.

  • You are, of course, correct. It’s not one summer–or winter–but many. This summer puts into high relief the cumulative effects–more and more extreme. the retreat of glaciers, etc. One summer does not prove (or disprove) anything. But NOAA and NASA data do. Each passing year seems to break the previous year’s records. And so it goes.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    And, yet, we don’t have enough recorded data going back far enough to determine if this is just one very large cycle for our planet. Just because we may be in danger of extinction doesn’t mean that our actions caused it. Seriously, were the Dinosaurs at fault for their demise?

  • Our actions over the past century sure as hell haven’t helped our case, have they? Look at it like this– our very large carbon footprint and insatiable thirst for fossil fuels could very well be the revenge of the dinosaurs.

  • kennedyj

    One note: I don’t believe tornadoes are projected to increase the way other extreme events are.

  • But perhaps the extreme thunderstorms with very high cloud tops and downdrafts (which produce tornadoes) would, like other extreme weather, increase.

  • zingzing

    brian: “Seriously, were the Dinosaurs at fault for their demise?”

    no, but that’s not all that related.

    “Just because we may be in danger of extinction doesn’t mean that our actions caused it.”

    so are you saying that NOW we should stop fucking around with the earth, eh? that now we should stop trying to bend climates and natural environments to our will? that now is the time to stop trying to mold our world into a place that will allow us to survive?

    maybe our actions haven’t caused this (i seriously doubt it though). but by trying to maintain the environment that we do have, we can’t hurt it. we like it the way it was. it’s getting beyond that now. if we can do something to slow down this process, such as… stop pumping noxious fumes into the air and dumping toxic waste all over the ground and water, using renewable resources and making individual and social efforts to leave a smaller footprint… well, good, right?