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Sierra Daily

Aug 08, 2012

Succumbing to the Heat

Drought aluxum iStock_000016202405XSmallJuly was officially the hottest month on record for the contiguous United States, says the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. And we’d better get used to seeing more summer records melt. A study published yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by NASA climatologist James Hansen, the “godfather of global warming,” says that the odds of extreme heat waves, rarer than 1 in 300 from the 1950s through the 1980s, are now closer to 1 in 10. “This is not a climate model or a prediction but actual observations of weather events and temperatures that have happened,” Hansen writes in the Washington Post. “Our analysis shows that it is no longer enough to say that global warming will increase the likelihood of extreme weather and to repeat the caveat that no individual weather event can be directly linked to climate change. To the contrary, our analysis shows that, for the extreme hot weather of the recent past, there is virtually no explanation other than climate change.”

Image by iStock/aluxum

HS_ReedMcManusReed McManus is a senior editor at Sierra.  He has worked on the magazine since Ronald Reagan’s second term.  For inspiration, he turns to cartoonist R. Crumb’s  Mr. Natural, who famously noted: “Twas ever thus.”

 

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