Media wakes up to Hell and High Water: Moscow’s 1000-year heat wave and “Pakistan’s Katrina”

BBC, Reuters, USA Today, Time link warming and extreme weather; Trenberth, Stott, and Masters explain the science

How hot is it?  So hot that even the status quo media is waking up to the fact that human emissions of greenhouse gases are changing the climate and causing  record-smashing extreme weather events, just  as scientist predicted decades ago.

It happened to CNN meteorologist Chad Myers, and  I have a roundup from other  major media outlets — please add links to ones I missed.

At the end is a discussion of the science of Hell and High Water in pieces by NCAR’s Kevin Trenberth, The Met Office’s Peter Stott, and Jeff Masters — along with links for those who want to donate to help out in the “massive humanitarian crisis in Pakistan.”  For more background, see “Intro to global warming impacts: Hell and High Water.”

BBC: Climate change ‘partly to blame’ for sweltering Moscow

Global climate change is partly to blame for the abnormally hot and dry weather in Moscow, cloaked in a haze of smoke from wildfires, say researchers.

The UK Met Office said there are likely to be more extreme high temperatures in the future….

Jeff Knight, a climate variability scientist at the UK Met Office, attributed the situation in Moscow to a number of factors, among them greenhouse gas concentrations, which are steadily rising.

Reuters (NYT):  Analysis: Pakistan Floods, Russia Heat Fit Climate Trend

OSLO (Reuters) – Devastating floods in Pakistan and Russia’s heatwave match predictions of extremes caused by global warming even though it is impossible to blame mankind for single severe weather events, scientists say.

This year is on track to be the warmest since reliable temperature records began in the mid-19th century, beating 1998, mainly due to a build-up of greenhouse gases from fossil fuels, according to the U.N. World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

“We will always have climate extremes. But it looks like climate change is exacerbating the intensity of the extremes,” said Omar Baddour, chief of climate data management applications at WMO headquarters in Geneva….

Recent extremes include mudslides in China and heat records from Finland to Kuwait — adding to evidence of a changing climate even as U.N. negotiations on a new global treaty for costly cuts in greenhouse gas emissions have stalled.

Reinsurer Munich Re said a natural catastrophe database it runs “shows that the number of extreme weather events like windstorm and floods has tripled since 1980, and the trend is expected to persist.”

The worst floods in Pakistan in 80 years have killed more than 1,600 people and left 2 million homeless.

“Global warming is one reason” for the rare spate of weather extremes, said Friedrich-Wilhelm Gerstengarbe, a professor at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

He pointed to the heatwave and related forest fires in Russia, floods in Pakistan, rains in China and downpours in countries including Germany and Poland. “We have four such extremes in the last few weeks. This is very seldom,” he said.

The weather extremes, and the chance of a record-warm 2010, undercut a view of skeptics that the world is merely witnessing natural swings perhaps caused by variations in the sun’s output.

USA Today:  Think this summer is hot? Get used to it

This summer’s stifling, deadly heat along the Eastern Seaboard and Deep South could be a preview of summers to come over the next few decades, according to a report about global warming to be published Wednesday by the National Wildlife Federation and the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

In fact, according to NWF climate scientist Amanda Staudt, the summer of 2010 might actually be considered mild compared with the typical summers in the future. “We all think this summer is miserable, but it’s nothing compared to what’s in store for us,” she says.

The East just sweltered through one of its hottest Julys on record, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Monday. Every state from Maine to Florida endured one its top-10 warmest Julys since records began in 1880. Two states, Delaware and Rhode Island, had their hottest July ever.

The report, a supplement to a 2009 report on heat waves, notes that more extremely hot summer days are projected for every part of the country by the year 2050: “Summers like the current one, or even worse, will become the norm by 2050 if global warming pollution continues to increase unabated.”

A federal report by the U.S. Global Change Research Program in 2009, which much of this report was based on, found that average temperatures in the USA have increased more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit in the past five decades, largely as the result of emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, which are produced by burning fossil fuels.

Time (Walsh’s blog):   The Asian Floods””Signs of Climate Catastrophes to Come?

They haven’t gotten anywhere near the attention they deserve, but the floods that have struck much of Asia over the past couple of weeks may be the biggest humanitarian disaster in recent memory””bigger even than the earthquake that hit Haiti in January and the 2004 Asian tsunami. Both of those catastrophes killed far more, but the floods have affected 13 million people in Pakistan alone, and parts of India, China and North Korea have also suffered from the rains. The floods will destroy homes and business, wreck agriculture and destroy infrastructure, leave disease and disability in their wake. Flooding in China has already killed more than 1,100 people this year and caused tens of billions of dollars of damage. In shaky Pakistan, where the public has been enraged by the government’s typically fumbling response to the flood, it could even increase support for hard-line Islamic groups.

As governments and charities grapple with the extent of the floods, the question arises, as it does every time there is a major weather event like this one: was this disaster truly natural, or is it connected in some way to climate change? Now it’s important to remember that major floods have been happening in this part of the world since well before humans began worrying about the impacts of global warming. And the massive number of people affected by these floods””or for that matter, the sky-high death tolls of the Haiti quake and the Asian tsunami””have as much to do with the growing number of people living in high-risk areas like the coast, earthquake zones and flood plains as it does with the strength of a storm or a temblor. The Haiti quake killed as many as 300,000 people, but at a magnitude of 7.0, it was slightly weaker than the 1989 Bay Area temblor that killed 62 people””the difference was Haiti’s population density, poverty and complete lack of earthquake building codes.

Still, the unrelenting rains that have produced the Asian flood is the sort of extreme weather that is likely to become more common with climate change, as Alister Doyle points out for Reuters

It’s all part of what Thomas Friedman has called “global weirding“””the weather gets strange and unpredictable, with the extremes getting more extreme. And unpredictability can kill””cities and countries are forced to deal with natural disasters on a scale they’ve never had to before, no longer able to look to the past for a reasonable expectation of what the future will be. We’ll need to get better at adapting to disasters””even poor countries can provide some protection, as Bangladesh has shown by fortifying itself against sea-level rise. But the heartbreaking Asian floods should be one more reminder of the need to put the world on a path to lower carbon emissions””before the weather reaches extremes that no one can handle.

NY Times (Revkin’s blog):  Scientists See Links From Asian Floods to Russian Heat

Two climatologists, Peter Stott at the British Met Office and Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, have separately described atmospheric dynamics that appear to link the extreme rains and flooding in Asia with Russia’s unrelenting, extraordinary heat and resulting conflagrations.

Peter Stott, head of climate monitoring and attribution at UK’s Met Office in UK Guardian:  There have always been extremes of weather around the world but evidence suggests human influence is changing the odds:

Over the past week or so, Pakistan has been devastated by its worst floods for generations and Moscow has suffered under a blanket of smog after its hottest day in 130 years of records. What is causing these and other recent extreme weather events and are they linked to climate change?

Because of a rare meteorological pattern we can see a connection between extreme weather across Eurasia. Usually, the flow in the upper troposphere over northern India, the Himalayas and Pakistan is dominated by the monsoon anticyclone which pushes the sub-tropical jet to the north of the Tibetan Plateau. This prevents mid-latitude weather systems from penetrating very far south, unlike this year, when active weather systems have spread southwards into Pakistan. Here this has combined with the monsoon to produce record rainfall. The record-breaking high temperatures in Moscow, forest fires and damaged crops are another consequence, as was the excessive rain over China when the Three Gorges Dam almost reached capacity a few short weeks ago.

So are we seeing the effects of climate change in these extreme weather events? Analysing the observational data shows clearly that there has been a rise in the number of extremely warm temperatures recorded worldwide and that there have been increases in the number of heavy rainfall events in many regions over land. Evidence, including in India and China, that periods of heavy rain are getting heavier, is entirely consistent with our understanding of the physics of the atmosphere in which warmer air holds more moisture. Our climate change predictions support the emerging trend in observations and show a clear intensification of extreme rainfall events in a warmer world.

It can still be problematic to blame a specific individual extreme weather event on climate change, because there have always been extremes of weather around the world. However, if the likelihood of a particular extreme weather event has changed it is possible to say something. I and colleagues from Oxford University showed, in a paper we published in Nature, that the probability of the hot European temperatures in 2003 had very likely doubled as a result of human influence. While still relatively rare, the odds of such extreme events are rapidly shortening and could become considered the norm by the middle of this century.

Wired: Russian Heat, Asian Floods May Be Linked

Russia’s killer heat wave and monster South Asian monsoon floods could be more than isolated examples of extreme weather. Though separated by a continent, they could be linked.

Monsoon rains drive air upward, and that air has to come down somewhere. It usually comes down over the Mediterranean, producing the region’s hot, dry climate. This year, some of that air seems to have gone north to Russia.

“We haven’t done the studies, but there’s very good reason to suspect that there’s a relationship,” said Kevin Trenberth, head of climate analysis at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. “It’s simply related to the idea that there is a monsoon with very large circulation. There’s an upwards branch of it. There has to be a downwards branch somewhere else.”

The Russian heat wave has persisted since late June, with daytime temperatures at least 12 Fahrenheit degrees above normal “” and often much more “” for over a month. In Moscow alone, an estimated 300 people a day have died. The temperatures threaten wheat harvests and have sent global prices rising in a manner reminiscent of the lead-up to 2008’s global food riots.

Weather Underground meteorologist Jeff Masters called it “one of the most remarkable weather events of my lifetime,” which is probably an understatement. Russian meteorologists say it’s the most intense heat wave in a millennium.

Meanwhile, in South Asia and China, seasonal monsoons have been exceptionally intense, setting off the worst flooding in 80 years. Pakistan has been especially hard-hit, with 1,600 people dead and 2 million homeless in what’s been dubbed “Pakistan’s Katrina.”

Events like these fit with general forecasts of weather trends in a warming climate. But some observers have wondered whether Russia’s heat wave and Asia’s floods are linked not just by a vague trend, but by specific cause-and-effect meteorological dynamics. They will undoubtedly be studied in detail for years to come, but according to Trenberth, there’s good reason to think the extremes are connected.

“The two things are connected on a very large scale, through what we call an overturning or monsoonal circulation,” he said. “There is a monsoon where upwards motion is being fed by the very moist air that’s going onshore, and there are exceptionally heavy rains. That drives rising air. That air has to come down somewhere. Some of it comes down over the north.”Fueling the monsoons’ intensity are warmer-than-usual temperatures in and above the Indian Ocean. At 2 Fahrenheit degrees above late-20th century levels, the air can hold about 8 percent more water. At higher temperatures, the air is also more buoyant, and “invigorates the storms,” said Trenberth.

“Air rises faster than before. It sucks more air in. It changes moisture flow onto land even more. You can almost double the effect,” he said. “From that 8 percent more water, there can be 16 percent more rainfall.”

Finally, Jeff Masters on “Pakistan’s Katrina“:
The monsoon season of 2010 continues to generate havoc in Asia, as lingering rains from the latest monsoon low continue to affect hard-hit Pakistan, China, and India. At least 702 are now reported dead and 1,042 are missing in China’s Gansu province, due to torrential monsoon rains that triggered a deadly landslide and extreme flooding on Sunday. At least 137 died in floods and landslides in the neighboring Indian state of Kashmir over the weekend, with 500 people missing. Monsoon flooding and landslides have also killed at least 65 people in Afghanistan in the past two weeks. But no country has suffered more than Pakistan, where monsoon floods have destroyed huge portions of the nation’s infrastructure and killed at least 1600 people. The number of people affected or needing assistance has been estimated to be as high as 13 million people–8% of the nation’s population. The disaster is the worst natural disaster in Pakistan’s history, and is rightfully being called “Pakistan’s Katrina.”
Monsoons: a primer
In summer, the sun warms up land areas more strongly than ocean areas. This occurs because wind and ocean turbulence mix the ocean’s absorbed heat into a “mixed layer” approximately 50 meters deep, whereas on land, the sun’s heat penetrates at a slow rate to a limited depth. Furthermore, due to its molecular properties, water has the ability to absorb more heat than the solid materials that make up land. As a result of this summertime differential heating of land and ocean, a low pressure region featuring rising air develops over land areas. Moisture-laden ocean winds blow towards the low pressure region and are drawn upwards once over land. The rising air expands and cools, condensing its moisture into some of the heaviest rains on Earth–the monsoon. Monsoons operate via the same principle as the familiar summer afternoon sea breeze, but on a grand scale. Each summer, monsoons affect every continent on Earth except Antarctica, and are responsible for life-giving rains that sustain the lives of billions of people. In India, home for over 1.1 billion people, the monsoon provides 80% of the annual rainfall. However, monsoons have their dark side as well–hundreds of people in India and surrounding nations die in an average year in floods and landslides triggered by heavy monsoon rains. The most deadly flooding events usually come from monsoon depressions (also known as monsoon lows.) A monsoon depression is similar to (but larger than) a tropical depression. Both are spinning storms hundreds of kilometers in diameter with sustained winds of 50 – 55 kph (30 – 35 mph), nearly calm winds at their center, and generate very heavy rains. Each summer, approximately 6 – 7 monsoon depressions form over the Bay of Bengal and track westwards across India. Four monsoon depressions originated in the Bay of Bengal in the El Ni±o-weakened monsoon season of 2009. This year’s first monsoon depression formed on July 24, crossed over India, and reached Pakistan on July 27. The rains increased in intensity over the next two days, peaking on July 29 and 30, when a low pressure system that moved across Pakistan from the west enhanced rainfall from the monsoon depression. Over the 3-day period July 28 – 30, torrential rains in excess of 8 inches (203 mm) fell in many regions of northwest Pakistan Rainfall amounts at two stations in the catchment basins of the Jhelum River and Indus River reached 19.49″ (495 mm) for the month of July, and 7.56″ (192 mm) fell in a single day, July 30, at Tarbela. A second monsoon depression arrived in Pakistan on August 3, and has brought additional heavy rains.
Are the this year’s monsoon floods due to global warming?
No single weather event can be attributed to climate change, but a warming climate does load the dice in favor of heavier extreme precipitation events. This occurs because more water vapor can evaporate into a warmer atmosphere, increasing the chances of record heavy downpours. In a study published in Science in 2006, Goswami et al. found that the level of heavy rainfall activity in the monsoon over India had more than doubled in the 50 years since the 1950s, leading to an increased disaster potential from heavy flooding. Moderate and weak rain events decreased over the past 50 years, leaving the total amount of rain deposited by the monsoon roughly constant. The authors commented, “These findings are in tune with model projections and some observations that indicate an increase in heavy rain events and a decrease in weak events under global warming scenarios.” We should expect to see an increased number of disastrous monsoon floods in coming decades if the climate continues to warm as expected. Since the population continues to increase at a rapid rate in the region, death tolls from monsoon flooding disasters are likely to climb dramatically in coming decades.

Goswami, et al., 2006, ” Increasing Trend of Extreme Rain Events Over India in a Warming Environment”, Science, 1 December 2006:Vol. 314. no. 5804, pp. 1442 – 1445 DOI: 10.1126/science.1132027

Donations urgently needed
The massive humanitarian crisis in Pakistan requires a huge response by the international community. Wunderblogger Dr. Ricky Rood, author of our Climate Change Blog, has a friend working in Pakistan who underscored the desperate situation there:

This is the worst natural disaster in the history of Pakistan in terms of number of people and area affected. Although not as many people have been killed as in the 2005 earthquake, we have already nearly 900,000 displaced persons thus far just in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Crops are destroyed; shops, hotels, and other business have simply been swept away in Swat, which had just this year been cleared of Taliban and was on the way to recovery; and districts closer to Peshawar and parts of Peshawar district are still, or perhaps again after yesterday/today, under water. After the immediate emergency response, it will be years of rebuilding to replace what has been lost and to start to develop again. I know you have the power to control the weather, so if you cold give us a week or two without more rain at least we could keep the helicopters flying and give people a chance to go to their homes, recover what might still be there, set up tents if we can get enough to them, and start to clean up.”

She gave the following recommendations for charities that do work in the flood-ravaged zone, and are effective at getting aid to those who need it the most:

Doctors Without Borders

The International Red Cross

MERLIN medical relief charity

The mobile giving service mGive allows one to text the word “SWAT” to 50555. The text will result in a $10 donation to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) Pakistan Flood Relief Effort.

She mentioned that it is better to send money to the organizations doing the relief work than to try to organize shipments of goods.

52 Responses to Media wakes up to Hell and High Water: Moscow’s 1000-year heat wave and “Pakistan’s Katrina”

  1. PSU Grad says:

    I just thought of another “tax” while reading this:

    “Reinsurer Munich Re said a natural catastrophe database it runs “shows that the number of extreme weather events like windstorm and floods has tripled since 1980, and the trend is expected to persist.”

    Insurance premiums will eventually have to rise to cover the increasing number of severe weather events. So people will no doubt be “taxed” in at least two different ways due to the actions of climate change deniers:

    1. Increased long-term trend for food prices.
    2. Increased insurance premiums.

    I’m sure there are more.

  2. catman306 says:

    I’d look for another hockey stick in graphs of food prices and insurance premiums. It’s those damned exponential functions doing us in.

    If anyone has access to the National Geographic Magazine complete 120 year back issue CD archive, could you look into special issue that covered the coming mass extinction? This issue appeared about 1990. The magazine was much better back then. I’m quite sure you’ll find some prophetic quotes. They had an issue around that time about climate change too.

    None of this meaningful stuff is available in their online archives that go back only to 2005.

  3. Peter Mizla says:

    All that CO2 in the atmosphere was bound to hit us in the ass-390ppm and rising- whats next?

  4. cervantes says:

    Also, props to the Associated Press for this (non-bylined) story, which hits every note.

    Floods, fires, melting ice and feverish heat: From smoke-choked Moscow to water-soaked Pakistan and the High Arctic, the planet seems to be having a midsummer breakdown. It’s not just a portent of things to come, scientists say, but a sign of troubling climate change already under way.

    The weather-related cataclysms of July and August fit patterns predicted by climate scientists, the Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization says – although those scientists always shy from tying individual disasters directly to global warming.

    “The 2007 IPCC report predicted a doubling of disastrous droughts in Russia this century and cited studies foreseeing catastrophic fires during dry years. It also said Russia would suffer large crop losses.”

    “A warmer atmosphere can hold – and discharge – more water. The 2007 IPCC report said rains have grown heavier for 40 years over north Pakistan and predicted greater flooding this century in south Asia’s monsoon region. ”

    “The IPCC reported in 2007 that rains had increased in northwest China by up to 33 percent since 1961, and floods nationwide had increased sevenfold since the 1950s. It predicted still more frequent flooding this century. ”

    “The huge iceberg appeared just five months after an international scientific team published a report saying ice loss from the Greenland ice sheet is expanding up its northwest coast from the south.

    Changes in the ice sheet “are happening fast, and we are definitely losing more ice mass than we had anticipated,” said one of the scientists, NASA’s Isabella Velicogna.

    In the Arctic Ocean itself, the summer melt of the vast ice cap has reached unprecedented proportions. Satellite data show the ocean area covered by ice last month was the second-lowest ever recorded for July.

    The melting of land ice into the oceans is causing about 60 percent of the accelerating rise in sea levels worldwide, with thermal expansion from warming waters causing the rest. The WMO’S World Climate Research Program says seas are rising by 1.34 inches per decade, about twice the 20th century’s average. ”

    “Worldwide temperature readings, meanwhile, show that this January-June was the hottest first half of a year in 150 years of global climate record keeping. Meteorologists say 17 nations have recorded all-time-high temperatures in 2010, more than in any other year.

    Scientists blame the warming on carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases pouring into the atmosphere from power plants, cars and trucks, furnaces and other fossil fuel-burning industrial and residential sources.”

    Now, if the New York Times would just finally admit it . . .

  5. Icarus says:

    ‘Global weirding’ (mentioned above) is an accurate description for the increase in extreme weather events we’re seeing around the world but it doesn’t explicitly say ‘climate’. I think the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) in the UK has it right – for some years they’ve been referring to the consequences of anthropogenic global warming as ‘climate chaos’. Chaos is certainly what we’re seeing at the moment, in Russia and Pakistan, and people really need to wake up to the fact that we face a lot more chaos in the future. It’s long past time to start taking it seriously.

  6. Dick Veldkamp says:

    From the Netherlands: much to its credit, the Dutch national TV-news (that’s a public network) made the connection of the disasters to climate change a couple of days ago. Unfortunately other Dutch media seem to be missing the (obvious) link so far.

  7. cervantes says:

    Intelligent life’s link does have a by-line, it’s Charles Hanley, so thanks for that. But really, I do think his language is reasonably scary.

  8. Keith says:

    anybody believe these clowns won’t give serious coverage to skeptics again if there’s a big snowstorm in DC this winter?

  9. dhogaza says:

    Slight correction, Joe (I think) …

    The russians aren’t saying it’s a 1000-year heat wave (which in the usual sense would mean “a heat wave expected about once per 1000 years”, ala a “100-year flood).

    They’re saying it’s hotter than anything seen in the last 1000 years. It might be a 2000-year, 3000-year heat wave, if you catch my drift …

    Off the map.

  10. RoySV says:

    May I humbly suggest that the dogma

    “No single weather event can be attributed to climate change”

    Needs to be replaced with something less equivocal, or at least more narrow as to what constitutes an “event”.

    1. When extreme hot weather, never before recorded in human history, persists for weeks. That is strong evidence for a climate change.
    2. When associated fires burn areas rarely, if ever, burned in a normal season, that is strong evidence that climate change is causing loss of soil moisture.
    3. When massive rainfall occur virtually simultaneously across huge areas of Asia, at the same time as massive heat and fires. We need to recognize that unprecedented event.

    In short, when a weather event/condition, or multiples occur that are virtually unknown in the modern scientific era, and when they keep occurring all across the glob we have objectively exceeded “weather” as an explanation. And from today’s vantage point, I don’t think we need 30 years of data to blame human-induced global warming!

  11. Colorado Bob says:

    Christopher Monckton told to stop claiming he is a member of the Lords
    You gotta love it .

  12. Colorado Bob says:

    The Guardian has picked-up Master’s point about records –

    World feeling the heat as 17 countries experience record temperatures

  13. Mike Roddy says:

    The most important argument is going to be disruption of ecosystems and decining agricultural productivity. Disasters are increasing, but affect few people.

    The deniers have long claimed that more CO2= greater crop growth, citing a bad study on Chinese rice. Please run a post on agriculture, with lots of data indicating what the science actually says here. I’ve heard a 10% decline in productivity per degree C of warming, a huge number, but don’t recall the source.

    Floods mean thousands homeless, but reduced yields mean millions starving and desperate. Global grain reserves are inadequate, and a price/supply squeeze caused by dessication and flooding may be the event that triggers real change.

  14. BBHY says:


    Don’t forget all time record high temperatures in 19 countries on three different continents. The intercontinental aspect intrigues me. No longer can it be claimed that this is a localized or regional anomaly. This truly is a global phenomena.

  15. RH factor says:

    And still the 4th branch of Government has not really connected the dots on their national news casts because they are completely at the mercy of big oil and big coal and ta-hell with the planet.

    At what point do people start to go — HEY WTF HERE? — no too comfy gotta watch Snooky and eat government sniff approved clams from Louisiana.

    HEY WTF?

  16. Gladys says:

    It is climate change what else-Winterstorms,floods,steaming summer etc May be it is the end of the world and Noah is busy building the ark

  17. Bob Doublin says:

    #13 Why does anyone think that looking like a walking peppermint stick is good fashion sense? We should only hope that Britain still beheads people when they commit lese’ majeste’ (snork)

  18. Dana says:

    Another CNN story –

    “As we continually stress, one extreme weather event, or even a series of weather events, is not caused by global warming or climate change. Weather extremes such as floods or heat waves happen every year, all over the globe.

    Many climate scientists believe, however, that these events will become more common, as the Earth warms because of global warming. Others will point to more distinct and shorter-scale cycles such as El Nino and La Nina, which commonly lead to extremes in weather around the globe.

    So, while we can tie many of these global weather disasters together around a common meteorological trigger, we cannot say for certain if climate change is helping to pull that trigger, or perhaps loading the gun more frequently.”

  19. John Mason says:

    Mike #15,

    Good points. There are direct and indirect effects, and the latter can be even worse than the direct ones.

    Cheers – John

  20. Colorado Bob says:

    I realize that this image is mostly farmers preparing their fields , but it’s stunning never the less :

    Today’s Aqua pass over central South America –

  21. This is like watching an asteroid crash into Earth in slow motion.

    Where’s Bruce and Billie Bob when you need them?

  22. dhogaza says:

    Tamino, at Open Mind, backs up the notion that this might be more like a 3000-year, rather than 1000-year event:

    Clearly, this July has been significantly hotter than previous years in the record. In fact the average daily high temperature for July 2010 is 3.6 standard deviations above the mean of all recorded July values. For a normally distributed random variable, the chance of being so extreme is only 0.0003 — less than 1 chance in 3000. Which agrees with statements from Russian meteorological officials that such a heat wave hasn’t been experienced in Moscow in at least 1,000 years.

    This is truly an extraordinary heat wave.

  23. Jeff Huggins says:

    REGARDING GM’s NEW BOSS . . . (see announcement on NY Times) . . .

    OK, First Questions First

    If The New York Times and other news media are doing their jobs, they will promptly and diligently ask Mr. Akerson these questions:

    1. What is your stance on global warming? Do you agree with the 97 percent of scientists that say it is real, that it is mostly caused by human activity, and that it poses substantial problems?

    2. What is your view about whether society should take substantial responsible steps to transition away from GHG-producing energy sources to clean energy sources?

    3. Do you think that regulations that call for higher and higher fuel efficiency, if they are well written and applied on a level playing field, would be good for society, for humankind, for the environment, AND for the auto companies themselves?

    These questions, and others like them, are MUST QUESTIONS for Mr. Akerson. Very simply, the news media would not be doing their jobs if they didn’t ask these questions repeatedly until clear answers are provided. That much is clear, I should think. Also, Mr. Akerson should already have the answers to these questions, at least in essence. After all, he should not have been picked, to lead GM, without being aware of these issues and having responsible views on them.

    So, who will ask him these questions? The New York Times? CNN? MSNBC? ABC, CBS, and NBC? Newsweek, Forbes, Fortune? The WSJ? All of the above?!

    And when will they ask him? And when will we, the public, be able to read and hear about his answers?

    Also — sorry to say this — I don’t want to hear ambiguous gobbledegook from GM and its new leader. Clarity and directness. As Bob Dylan sings, let’s not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late.

    Joe and CAP, how do we “prompt” the news media to do their job on this particular issue, which has the benefit of focus and measurability? Clearly, they should push for, and get, answers to these questions. Clearly, they should publish and broadcast those answers. And clearly, we (public) will be able to measure whether those things happen.

    Time to get concrete.

    Thanks, and Be Well,


  24. Wit'sEnd says:


    “Summers like the current one, or even worse, will become the norm by 2050 if global warming pollution continues to increase unabated.”

    should read as follows:

    “Summers like the current one, or even worse, will become the norm by 2050 EVEN IF GLOBAL WARMING POLLUTION CEASES.”

    It is already in the pipeline and barring some miraculous method of CO2 removal from the air and sea, we will continue heating as the amplifying feedbacks have already begun, and it takes according to Susan Solomon, 1000 years for the effects of CO2 to dissipate naturally once emissions have stopped. (

    We are in an emergency. Governments should ration use of fuel on a per person basis, and further restrict it for the most important uses only while we transition to clean energy. Wasteful consumption of fuel and all fuel-derivatives should be banned, from mowing lawns to heating pools to plastic bags. Instead of fighting wars, nations should be fighting the effects of global boiling by subsidizing education in sustainable agriculture techniques and mitigation efforts, as well as efforts to survive the coming catastrophes through cooperation and compassion.

    Anything less is mutual assured destruction via Global Boiling.

  25. Prokaryotes says:

    RoySV, #11 “No single weather event can be attributed to climate change”

    Needs to be replaced with something less equivocal, or at least more narrow as to what constitutes an “event”.

    Yes, because weather is part of the climate. So actually every weather event we observe is affected from climate change. Just dependent on the climate “dice”.

  26. Prokaryotes says:

    Colorado Bob, #24 “I realize that this image is mostly farmers preparing their fields , but it’s stunning never the less”

    Wow, this has to be converted into biochar, not burned. Char, Baby Char!

  27. Colorado Bob says:

    Jersey Shore: Dead Fish Wash Ashore In Thousands For Second Time This Week On East Coast (VIDEO)

  28. caerbannog says:

    (Not totally on-topic, but this is a nice example of the pernicious “talk radio” effect on public science literacy…)

    Whilst perusing the latest “climategate” hits, I came across this tidbit (linky ):

    Vaccines & Autism/Climategate
    Wednesday June 9, 2010

    In the first half of the show, author of one of the most controversial clinical papers in modern medical history, Dr. Andrew Wakefield told the story of how he linked autism to vaccines. In the latter half of the show, meteorologist and talk show host Brian Sussman talked about ‘Climategate,’ and what he views as a global warming scam. … More
    Host: George Noory

    “Vaccines & Autism/Climategate” — that pretty much tells you all you need to know about deniers and their irresponsible media enablers…

  29. Colorado Bob says:

    Maybe the 85 F degree water has something to do with the fish kills –

  30. I’m still waiting for the mainstream media to cover the record flooding that has occurred once again, for the second time in a week, across portions of Iowa. Many parts of the state have experienced major-to-record flooding now up to 5 times in the last 20 years. Mitigation from previous flooding (the infamous 1993 flood that was supposedly the benchmark) helped save many lives and prevent many injuries, which probably explains the lack of media attention.

  31. David Fox says:

    Seems to me that there is a large segment of people, again just me, but most of these tend to be ‘conservative’, who have a distinct lack of empathy. Until a thing affects those people personally, they have a hard time understanding that thing.

    One example I think of from recent memory is the FISA legislation and Bush admin law breaking. Certain legislators who backed rectroacive immunity for phone companies who broke the law to spy on Americans told us we just need to trust them, that they’re just trying protect us. When later it was discovered that those same legislators had their phones tapped, guess what? Suddenly they were against it. They were unable to visualize themselves in that situation, and have concern for others who were.

    Same thing here – look no further than the Russians for another example. Five years ago, climate change was a plot by the West to take them down. Now that they’re buring up, it’s a global, man-made problem that we need to address.

  32. Michael T says:

    July 2010 — What Global Warming Looks Like

    “The July 2010 global map of surface temperature anomalies (Figure 1), relative to the average July in the 1951-1980 period of climatology, provides a useful picture of current climate. It was more than 5°C (about 10°F) warmer than climatology in the eastern European region including Moscow. There was an area in eastern Asia that was similarly unusually hot. The eastern part of the United States was unusually warm, although not to the degree of the hot spots in Eurasia.”

  33. Prokaryotes says:

    Floods show threat from warmer world: scientists

    SINGAPORE/ISLAMABAD: Floods that have devastated several cities and villages of Pakistan could be a sign of the future, as climate change brings greater extremes of weather to the region.

    While climate scientists said that single flooding events could not be directly blamed on global warming, more intense droughts and floods could be in the forecast for the future. And for 160 million people of Pakistan, many already facing regular droughts and floods that could cost more lives, and threaten cotton wheat and rice crops and infrastructure.

    It could also add to the security challenges in what is already one of the world’s poorest and volatile nations that is battling militancy. The government has been heavily criticised over its poor response to the crisis. Scientists say Pakistan could also suffer in the long-term from declining amounts of melt water from glaciers feeding the Indus River, which is the nation’s life-blood.\11\story_11-8-2010_pg7_29

  34. Bob Potter says:

    Questions posed by Jeff Huggins #27 are MUST ASK questions for anyone and everyone running for office and anyone in leadership positions, corporate and private. Questions #1 and #2 should be asked as is; #3 might be tweaked a bit to fit the situation. Ask them loud, and ask them often.

    I am forwarding these questions to our local paper requesting that they ask them of all candidates and current office-holders. I’ll also send to the alternative papers, and radio and TV news directors. And I’ll take these questions to any and all candidate forums I can and make sure that they are asked. We MUST put these people on the spot and find out where they stand.

  35. Prokaryotes says:

    More from reuters

    Analysis: Extreme weather plagues farming, talks flounder

    Global wheat markets reeling from Russian droughts, thousands of cattle killed by heat in Kansas, and countless crop acres wiped out by floods in Pakistan are glimpses of what can be expected as the world struggles to battle climate change.

  36. Some European says:

    Let’s celebrate this! Why am I the only euphoric commenter?
    Thanks Joe for the relentless ‘all-time-record-for-bad-clilmate-journalism’-type comments. You’ve definitely made a large contribution to this important tipping point.
    Now let’s call the disinformers for what they are and raise public awareness about the decade-long manipulation they have suffered.
    A lot of damage has been done. Let’s take this first step as an encouragement to work together towards fast and effective solutions.

  37. From Peru says:

    The return of the Arctic Dipole Anomnaly?

    Will Arctic sea ice melt now accellerate?

  38. Paulm says:

    It not just the media, but my relatives also. After years of disbelif they have suddenly sat up. This realization came before the the media started to report the current link. The relization that whats happening in Russia, Pakistan and China is happening more frequently and getting worse with each event has sunk home. They now see that they will probably not long going to be experience events on this scale for the for seeable future.

    Amazing. They have fliped like a switch. They are still in shock, the fully consequence of a 1C GW rise will not have formed for them yet.

    I feel a large burden lifted of my shoulder, even though all my efforts resulted in hardly a blink from them and much negative tension.

  39. Mark says:

    And, all of this, horrifying as it is, is just the beginning.

    I suspect he doesn’t care that much for accolades, but Joe Romm should be getting much more than “best blog” award.

    He is relentless, pushing at this monstrous pile of stupidity.

    Thanks Joe.

  40. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    When I said you had not blogged on the Pakistan disaster, I did not mean it as a criticism. Any other year and we would be seeing Pakistan headlines day after day. So much is happening that a disaster that could end up worse than the Tsunami is getting relatively little coverage.

    This could end up destroying Pakistan as a nation, it is that bad. Do we send aid now, or soldiers later when the insurgents have taken control.

    [JR: NP. Actually, I had blogged on Pakistan, but it was easy to miss.]

  41. MarkB says:

    Here’s a bit of a so-so (at best) wishy-washy CNN article. I guess they’re making some progress.

    “As we continually stress, one extreme weather event, or even a series of weather events, is not caused by global warming or climate change. Weather extremes such as floods or heat waves happen every year, all over the globe.

    Many climate scientists believe, however, that these events will become more common, as the Earth warms because of global warming. Others will point to more distinct and shorter-scale cycles such as El Nino and La Nina, which commonly lead to extremes in weather around the globe.

    So, while we can tie many of these global weather disasters together around a common meteorological trigger, we cannot say for certain if climate change is helping to pull that trigger, or perhaps loading the gun more frequently.”

    Note the 2nd paragraph in particular. “Many climate scientists believe…” as if there’s really any more than a few notable climate scientists who don’t believe there will be more frequent heatwaves, wildfires, and extreme precipitation events as the century progresses. Then the 2nd sentence on el Nino and la Nina is presented in such a way to imply it contradicts the first one.

  42. Wit'sEnd says:

    #45: “So, while we can tie many of these global weather disasters together around a common meteorological trigger, we cannot say for certain if climate change is helping to pull that trigger, or perhaps loading the gun more frequently.”

    I’ve seen that either/or statement before and it puzzles me. Does it actually mean anything at all?

  43. Prokaryotes says:

    Long, hot summer of fire, floods fits predictions

    Floods, fires, melting ice and feverish heat: From smoke-choked Moscow to water-soaked Iowa and the High Arctic, the planet seems to be having a midsummer breakdown. It’s not just a portent of things to come, scientists say, but a sign of troubling climate change already under way.

    The weather-related cataclysms of July and August fit patterns predicted by climate scientists, the Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization says – although those scientists always shy from tying individual disasters directly to global warming.

  44. Prokaryotes says:

    Scientists blame the warming on carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases pouring into the atmosphere from power plants, cars and trucks, furnaces and other fossil fuel-burning industrial and residential sources.

    Experts are growing ever more vocal in urging sharp cutbacks in emissions, to protect the climate that has nurtured modern civilization.

    “Reducing emissions is something everyone is capable of,” Nanjing-based climatologist Tao Li told an academic journal in China, now the world’s No. 1 emitter, ahead of the U.S.

    But not everyone is willing to act.

    The U.S. remains the only major industrialized nation not to have legislated caps on carbon emissions, after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid last week withdrew climate legislation in the face of resistance from Republicans and some Democrats.

    The U.S. inaction, dating back to the 1990s, is a key reason global talks have bogged down for a pact to succeed the expiring Kyoto Protocol. That is the relatively weak accord on emissions cuts adhered to by all other industrialized states.

    Governments around the world, especially in poorer nations that will be hard-hit, are scrambling to find ways and money to adapt to shifts in climate and rising seas.

  45. Prokaryotes says:

    Salvano Briceno of the U.N.’s International Strategy for Disaster Reduction pointed to aggravating factors in the latest climate catastrophes: China’s failure to stem deforestation, contributing to its deadly mudslides; Russia’s poor forest management, feeding fires; and the settling of poor Pakistanis on flood plains and dry riverbeds in the densely populated country, squatters’ turf that suddenly turned into torrents.

    “The IPCC has already identified the influence of climate change in these disasters. That’s clear,” Briceno said. “But the main trend we need to look at is increasing vulnerability, the fact we have more people living in the wrong places, doing the wrong things.”

  46. Wit'sEnd says:

    Another for the list, HuffPo interviews David Orr, a professor of environmental studies and politics at Oberlin College, in a story titled: Global Weirding – Extreme Climate Events Dominate the Summer:

    “We really don’t have a name to describe behavior of this sort,” Orr said of the resistance to dealing with climate change.

    “It is criminality beyond any language, concepts or laws that we presently have. It’s criminality that places the entire human enterprise at risk. And we simply have not been able to confront inaction that allows the entire human enterprise to slip into catastrophic failure. It really does beggar the imagination to understand why, given the consensus of the scientific community on this issue, why inaction was the order of the day,” said Orr, conspicuously referring to the failure to address the issue in the past tense.

    “A lot of effort is spent to try to figure out how to cleverly frame issues so as to appeal to people’s self-interest. And I don’t know that that’s always the smart way to do it. I think the smartest way to do it is to tell the truth as best you understand it. And the truth of the matter is, for me personally, all of the events that you’ve mentioned are yet further evidence that climate is rapidly destabilizing. Would any one of those specific events have been likely to happen in the absence of the human influence of climate? I think the answer would have to be no to almost a vanishing point.”

  47. Mark says:

    you can ad the Winnipeg Free press to the list with a front page half page “world in peril” headline, and articles.

    The National Post kicked this off.

  48. dbmetzger says:

    and amidst the heat Iraq continues to have problems with its electrical grid. Iraq’s Dark Age
    Eight hot summers after American troops entered Iraq, one of the most basic needs, electricity, remains unreliable