Video: Extreme weather in the United States

The extreme weather of 2010 was record-setting. But it may be the new normal. This year Americans have already suffered through “supercell thunderstorms” in Iowa, severe drought and record wildfires in Texas, and heavy rains across the United States. The recent southeastern storms and tornados took at least 340 lives across eight states. And residents of the Mississippi River Valley only narrowly avoided the most severe, damaging floods there in nearly a century.

The Center for American Progress’s “Year of Living Dangerously” report and this video highlight the damage from extreme weather in 2010″”including the 1,000-year flood in Nashville, Tennessee, and the “snowmageddon” across along the East Coast””and the connection to global warming:

(transcript, mp4, YouTube)

This summary of climate science can help provide context to the recent surge in extreme weather events.

We determined in the report that the extreme weather of 2010 exacted a huge human and economic toll. More than 380 people died and 1,700 were injured due to weather events in the United States. The magnitude of these events forced the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, to declare 81 disasters. For nearly 60 years the annual average was 33. Total economic damages in 2010 exceeded a whopping $6.7 billion.

We must promptly begin to reduce carbon dioxide and other pollutants before the “year of living dangerously” occurs every year.

Reposted from the CAP website.

JR:  For a review of the recent literature on the link between human-caused climate change and extreme weather, see “Two seminal Nature papers join growing body of evidence that human emissions fuel extreme weather, flooding that harm humans and the environment.”

10 Responses to Video: Extreme weather in the United States

  1. Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Seeking Colorado Bob. Bob, where is your big list of big floods?

  2. LucAstro says:

    If this is the manifestation of +0.8C average warming on our Planet, i.e. an increase of the frequency and intensity of extreme extreme weather events, how will it look like with an increase of +4C in 2100? It will be an exciting time I guess, in which living dangerously will be accessible from one’s front porch, no need anymore of joining expensive National Geographic excursions to Tibet or Africa.

  3. Lewis C says:

    Luc –

    if Hansen is right that the 0.8C reflects only half of the 35yr-timelagged warming off the 55ppmv CO2 rise from 280 to 335 by 1975, (the other half being shaded out by our fossil-sourced sulphate parasol)
    what is the ‘pipeline’ warming from the 55ppmv CO2 we’ve added since 1975, together with that from the closure of the parasol as we terminate GHG emissions ?

    Supposing we ended those GHG emissions by 2045 (which many would say is not fast enough) then the sum looks like this:

    0.8C x 2(ppmv) x 2(parasol) = 3.2C

    While this cannot be more than a notional sum, it is worth noting that it excludes any additional warming from accelerating albedo loss and carbon feedbacks.

    My point is that without effective mitigation – necessarily including albedo restoration since carbon recovery has both a lead-time and a time-lag on its effects, it seems likely we’d see 4.0C of warming well before 2050, let alone 2100.



  4. Kasra says:

    great video.

    this sort of stuff should be running nonstop on the tube.

  5. Jac says:

    Yes, it’s about time the U.S.:
    -Stop building any more coal power plants

    -Convert the oldest, existing coal plants to natural gas

    -Drastically ramp up nuclear power plants to power homes, industry, and electric cars

    -tell Obama to mandate that all Gov’t cars purchased from 2012 forward run on natural gas

  6. EconDemocracy says:

    “0.8C x 2(ppmv) x 2(parasol) = 3.2C”

    Unless I misunderstood your paraphrase of Hansen, this 3.2 would come from the full accounting (times 2) of the “280 to 335” plus full accounting of 335 to _today’s_ 390ppm.

    ..So when you speak of “ending all GHG emissions by 2045” one would still need to add to those 3.2C (even _before_ mentioning feedbacks that may further amplify, as you very rightly raise)…the additional rise in temp due to the 2011-2045. I suppose you were perhaps suggesting that the lag would mean a relatively small amount would be realized by 2045 with most of our “debt” in higher temps, for 2011-2045 GHG emissions, coming later, since after all you are speaking about temp by 2050.

    Even so it would seem to be more than 0.1 so already to nearest 0.1 it would be more than 3.2C by this, yes, very “rough and ready” (or “notional”) back of the envelope estimate.

    Then add the feedbacks, including possible large release of methane (or, it’s already large enough to matter, so make that ‘possible huge release of methane) and 2050 would be that much higher of course..not that we should encourage the public to take their eyes off the effects during 2050-2100 or even for that matter, effects past 2100 which even international reports so often (inadvertently perhaps) brush under the rug.

    Too often on CP including comments I think there is wishful thinking about soem short term horror “waking people up” .. While such effects are not zero, we vastly over estimate them if we paint mental pictures of a changed paradigm in terms of the corporate-governmental BAU institutions which rule our nation and rule most of world.

    We imagine almost a chorus of “gee, you folks were RIGHT! We’re verysorry! And, please come on TV/internet every week this year to suggest new policies to us!” happening after a sufficiently extreme series of climate disasters..Not likely! What happened after the WMD lies were exposed? Did the mainstream news media say, “Gee, you anti-war folks were Right! We’re going to invite you to be the guest experts and analysts on our shows regularly now when we cover the so-called War on Terror, a war on a tactic, since the other side was so off base and you folks were so damn right, and prescient, and you warned us, and we don’t want to have this happen again, so from now on in WOT and security matters, we’ll invite you regularly as expert guests and ask for your policy suggestions” That sure did NOT happen!!

    And it’s fantasy to suppose it would happen with a climate “Told ya so” any more than this and other “Told ya so”

    The institutions need to change, those governmental that are so beholden to private contributions, and also those economic institutions need to change, or policy will not change drastically. It can get better or worse, within the corporate paradigm, of course, after all, U.S. Republican policies versus those of Obama or of other western countries are not identical. But all fall far short of sane prudent policy, and for the same basic reason. CEOs are not Hitler-like genocidal monsters (not most of them anyway) and they want a livable planet for their grandkids, but the insanity of a corporate economic model with profits above all else, nay, short-term profits above all else (add to climate destruction even if profits in 30 years are hurt by it) is an elephant in the room we can ignore but until addressed, and replaced with a saner system, is one which will keep the parameters of any progress we are lucky enough to make, rather narrow ones. The corporate feudalism we live under must not merely lie, but be replaced with something positive, if we and the planet is to live. (I greatly admire the work of JR/CP which is highly needed and not everyone can work directly on planting seeds of new economic institutions which might help replace even partly the corporate short-term-profit hegemony, but hopefully more people will put more energy in these directions in the coming years)

  7. Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Catman306, many thanks!

  8. catman306 says:

    Killing Waters in the Heartland
    It doesn’t have to be a flood to be a threat

    It’s too wet to plant even where there is no flood