Monday, September 27, 2010


As Charles Dickens may have written of the summer that ended last week, "It was the worst of times. It was the worst of times."
There is brutal irony in the Senate's failure to take up a strong climate and energy bill during a summer when the world baked, melted, flooded, and burned.
Below is a summary of some of the most tragic and ominous climate impacts from this summer. We offer this list not to scare or depress you, but to:
  1. Emphasize what's at stake and make it clear that the consequences of climate inaction are not theoretical – they are frighteningly real.
  2. Inspire us all to stay in this fight and keep urging our leaders and our networks of friends, family, and colleagues to treat this environmental crisis seriously.
Afterall, the polluters aren't giving up -- not for a second. Even now, they and their well-heeled lobbyists are working overtime to secure Senate votes to limit the EPA's authority to cut climate pollution.
Even if you have already emailed your Senators, email them again. Make sure they understand that the polluters may have the money and the lobbyists, but we have the numbers and we will stay in this fight for our planet's future.
Thank you!
Here are some of the most tragic and ominous events from this year's "Summer from Hell." Please forward this to everyone you know and urge them to get involved in this fight.
Summer from Hell: Our New Normal on a Warming Planet?
  • 10 U.S. states had their hottest summer on record and all but 7 states were above normal. And summer nighttime heat records were set in 37 states.
  • June-August global land surface temperature was the warmest on record, 1.80 F (1.00 C) above the 20th century average of 56.9 F (13.8 C) and surpassing the previous record of 1.66 F (0.92 C) set in 1998.
  • For only the third time in the satellite record and the third time in the last four years, the Arctic sea ice extent fell below 5 million square kilometers (1.93 million square miles). This summer's Arctic sea ice extent fell more than 25% below the 1979-2009 31-year average.
  • Arctic sea ice volume (extent and thickness) reached the lowest level ever recorded, prompting Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center to predict, "The Arctic summer sea ice cover is in a death spiral. It's not going to recover."
  • A record Russian heat wave caused massive wildfires and drought and may have killed up to 15,000 people, cost the Russian economy $15 billion, and destroyed a third of the Russian grain crop, causing global wheat prices to nearly double. Peat bog and forest fires filled Moscow's air with carbon monoxide levels reaching 6.5 times more than the maximum allowable levels.
  • Devastating floods inundated one-fifth of Pakistan, drove millions from their homes, and led to the deaths of more than 1,600 people. Up to a foot of rain fell in a 36-hour period and Ghassem Asrar, director of the World Climate Research Programme, pointed to climate change: "There's no doubt that clearly the climate change is contributing, a major contributing factor. We cannot definitely use one case to kind of establish precedents, but there are a few facts that point towards climate change as having to do with this."
  • Hundreds of walruses on Alaska's North Slope were stampeded to death when they beached themselves on land because there were no sea ice floes available.
  • This year's extreme heat is causing only the second known global bleaching of coral reefs. In oceans from Thailand to Texas, scientists fear this year's die-off may be as bad as or worse than in 1998 when an estimated 16% of the world's shallow water reefs were severely damaged. In the waters off the Philippines, 95% of the corals have died this year.


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