UPDATE: Some confusionists who don’t know the scientific literature are misrepresenting this post. The key point, as I make clear, is that the NY Times focused its story specifically on why this drought is so hot — but never mentioned global warming at all. Further, as one of the country’s leading climatological experts on Southwestern drought made clear in 2011 Senate testimony on the New Mexico drought (see below):
There is broad agreement in the climate science research community that the Southwest, including New Mexico, will very likely continue to warm. There is also a strong consensus that the same region will become drier and increasingly snow-free with time, particularly in the winter and spring. Climate science also suggests that the warmer atmosphere will lead to more frequent and more severe (drier) droughts in the future. All of the above changes have already started, in large part driven by human-caused climate change.
UPDATE 2: Andrew Freedman of WashPost’s Capital Weather Gang, writes me “The fact that the article basically said ‘man, it’s hot too!’ and failed to at least examine the link between that, the dry ground, and climate change was rather egregious.”
Another week, another New York Times article on extreme weather that fails to connect any dots whatsoever to global warming for the public. The NYT similarly blew the Arizona wildfire story and the Dust Bowl story.
Now readers have been sending me this double by-lined gem all day: “Drought Spreads Its Pain Across 14 States.” The piece does have a great chart [click to enlarge].
“Dangerously Dry: Nearly a fifth of the contiguous United States has been faced with the worst drought in recent years.”
And it starts to tell the story:
COLQUITT, Ga. — The heat and the drought are so bad in this southwest corner of Georgia that hogs can barely eat. Corn, a lucrative crop with a notorious thirst, is burning up in fields. Cotton plants are too weak to punch through soil so dry it might as well be pavement.
Farmers with the money and equipment to irrigate are running wells dry in the unseasonably early and particularly brutal national drought that some say could rival the Dust Bowl days….
In Texas, where the drought is the worst, virtually no part of the state has been untouched. City dwellers and ranchers have been tormented by excessive heat and high winds. As they have been in the southwest, wildfires are chewing through millions of acres….
Most troubling is that the drought, which could go down as one of the nation’s worst, has come on extra hot and extra early…..
Oklahoma has had only 28 percent of its normal summer rainfall and the heat has blasted past 90 degrees for a month.
The question, of course, becomes why. In a spring and summer in which weather news has been dominated by epic floods and tornadoes, it is hard to imagine that nearly a third of the country is facing an equally daunting but very different kind of natural disaster.
Why didn’t anyone warn us such stuff could happen?
If only there were some scientific theory that explained why we might see so much heat at the same time we are making dry areas drier and wet areas wetter. If only scientists could explain why we are seeing heat waves and wildfires earlier in the year.
The NY Times has the answer: