3 July 2012
It’s not a proper question to ask if this heat wave is being caused by climate change. Climate change has a hand in all of these extremes now. A better way to think about it is to say that climate change makes these kind of events worse and more frequent. I wrote a piece for the NCAR Currents magazine earlier this year on just this question. Kevin Trenberth at NCAR was on the PBS News Hour tonight and the clip is below.
Record highs are not a sign of climate change, but breaking all time record highs and breaking far more high temperature records than low temperature records is most certainly a sign that the climate is changing. The kind of June we have had this year will eventually become something that happens every few years later in this century. The folks at Climate Central put together a summary of the records and they are nothing less than amazing.
A frequently used analogy is the baseball player on steroids. Can you say that he hit a home run because of the steroids? No, he likely hit quite a few before he was on steroids. The steroids just made it more likely he would knock the ball out of the park. Increasing greenhouse gases make it more likely that we will see heat waves like this.
Can you name the ten hottest years on record? I’ll make it easy, 9 have been in this century. Welcome to a warming world, and your grandkids have seen nothing yet.