Today's Poughkeepsie Journal editorial is spot-on (ok this does happen occasionally); time for Dutchess County to follow Red Hook model!
From http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/article/20100816/OPINION01/8160307/Editorial-3-cheers ...
Editorial: 3 cheers
AUGUST 16, 2010
To the Town of Red Hook's Town Board, voted to be a pilot community in the "10 Percent Challenge" (see http://www.10percentchallenge.org ). The "challenge" will be a community effort over the next year to reduce both personal and business energy use by 10 percent. A new group, Red Hook Together, which includes members from the Red Hook School District, town and village board members, the Chamber of Commerce and Bard College, is working to help make it happen. AmeriCorps volunteers will plan 10 community events. On Oct. 10, (10/10/10), Red Hook will kick off the project and take part in an "international movement for a roll-up-your-sleeves-work-party day"; the town will plant trees, hold a bike swap, have a composting workshop and host a half-marathon.
[note-- kudos to Sustainable Hudson Valley for getting word out all over re: 10 Percent Challenge!]
So.....earlier this morning I submitted to our Co. Leg. offices the resolution below for Dutchess County to follow the good example of Red Hook-- for our county itself to embrace the Ten Percent Challenge!...
Send a letter to all 25 of us now at firstname.lastname@example.org-- co-sponsors needed by 5 pm!
"From the Gulf Tragedy to an Energy Revolution" by Melissa Everett of Sustainable Hudson Valley
http://sustainhv.org/node/833 [July 10th]
"A Wilted Senate on a Heated Planet" by Bill McKibben of http://www.350.org [Aug. 4th]
And-- check out http://www.350.org for 10-10-10 Global Work Party Day-- Dutchess County government should officially join Red Hook on this!...
[recall-- last Oct. 24th 150 came out to Holy Light Pentecostal Church in Poughkeepise to join Pete Seeger, Ned Sullivan of Scenic Hudson, William Schlesinger of the Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies, Eban Goodstein of the Bard Center for Environmental Policy, and Allison Morrill Chartrychan of Cornell Cooperative Extension's Environmental Program, and many more (Pat Lamanna, Chris Ruhe, Ann Perry, et. al.)-- for our Second Annual 350.org Rally for a Green New Deal as part of the International Day of Action on Climate Change-- and we gathered 200 on Mid-Hudson Bridge in 2008]
Let's ramp it up, party peoples!...
So again-- send those letters now to all of us on this-- at email@example.com!...
[need at least three other county legislators to agree to co-sponsor this by 5 pm today-- for Sept. mtg.!]
Pass it on...
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[text here of new resolution on this-- your support needed!]
WHEREAS, the choices of individuals and communities have powerful leverage, in the marketplace and the political realm; in the United Kingdom and Vermont, an intriguing energy-saving campaign is spreading virally with the support of national media, stars, and many engaged citizens; tt goes by the name 10:10-- a campaign to reduce carbon footprint and energy use 10% in the year 2010, and
WHEREAS, sixty-five thousand people and over 2,000 businesses are part of the campaign, which is endorsed and regularly covered in The Guardian; October 10, 2010 is the global launch of 10:10, and
WHEREAS, in the Hudson Valley, we have the makings of a similar campaign, the Ten Percent Challenge; Sustainable Hudson Valley has put this campaign together with a website, incentives and rewards, tools and support; the solar thermal company EarthKind Energy has generously pledged a free solar hot water system for the first community to achieve its 10% carbon reduction goals, and
WHEREAS, the Red Hook's Town Board recently voted to be a pilot community in the "10 Percent Challenge"; the "challenge" is a community effort over the next year to reduce both personal and business energy use by 10 percent; in Vermont the "10 Percent Challenge" has been embraced by IBM, Seventh Generation, Ben and Jerry's, the City of Burlington, and the Towns of Brattleboro, Charlotte, Middlebury, Underhill, and Williston, and
WHEREAS, a new group, Red Hook Together, which includes members from the Red Hook School District, town and village board members, the Chamber of Commerce and Bard College, is working to help make it happen; AmeriCorps volunteers are planning ten community events, and
WHEREAS, on October 10th Red Hook will kick off the project and take part in an "international movement for a roll-up-your-sleeves-work-party day"; the town will plant trees, hold a bike swap, have a composting workshop and host a half-marathon, and
WHEREAS, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the planet has just come through the warmest decade, the warmest 12 months, the warmest six months, and the warmest April, May, and June on record, and nine nations have so far set their all-time temperature records in 2010, including Russia (111 degrees), Niger (118), Sudan (121), Saudi Arabia and Iraq (126 apiece), and Pakistan, which also set the new all-time Asia record in May: a hair under 130 degrees
WHEREAS, a staggering new study from Canadian researchers has shown that warmer seawater has reduced phytoplankton, the base of the marine food chain, by 40% since 1950; it is estimated that the earth's average temperature has increased by the unprecedented amount of about 1 degree Fahrenheit over the past century, and projections are that the earth will increase up to 6 degrees Fahrenheit by the year 2100, and
WHEREAS, last year 350.org organized what Foreign Policy magazine called the "largest ever coordinated global rally of any kind" on any issue -- 5,200 gatherings in 181 countries, 2,000 of them in the U.S.; people were rallying not just about climate change, but around a remarkable scientific data point: 350 parts per million carbon dioxide, which NASA's James Hansen and his colleagues have demonstrated is the most we can have in the atmosphere if we want a planet "similar to the one on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted", and
WHEREAS those 5,200 gatherings were just a start; the follow-up is in October -- on 10-10-10 -- with a Global Work Party; all around the country and the world people will be putting up solar panels and digging community gardens and laying out bike paths; not because we can stop climate change one bike path at a time, but because we need to make a sharp political point to our leaders: "we're getting to work, what about you?", and
WHEREAS, according to the EPA, since the pre-industrial era, atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide has increased nearly 30 percent; the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projects that, due to the melting polar ice caps, a 20-inch rise in sea level can be expected in the next century; this would put more than 9,000 square miles of the current United States including much of the Atlantic seaboard under water, and
WHEREAS, according to Sustainable Hudson Valley, American households generate 38% of the country's carbon footprint, which is 8% of the world's footprint and larger than that of any other country except China, and therefore be it
RESOLVED, that the Dutchess County Legislature officially declares October 10, 2010 "Dutchess County Ten Percent Challenge 350.org Work Party Day", and also enters Dutchess County into the Ten Percent Challenge, based on the good example of the Town of Red Hook, and be it further
RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution be sent to our County Executive and our county's Departments of Planning and Development, Public Works, and Central Services.
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Just in case you didn't catch this stuff below from yesterday.....
Look at these newspaper headlines over the last few days re: impact of climate change all over...
["think globally, act locally" shouldn't just be a bumpersticker, folks-- we should be doing it!]
"Linking Weather Chaos to Global Warming" by Justin Gillis [today's Times]
"20 Million Made Homeless in Pakistan by Floods; Cholera Outbreak Feared" [Saturday's Guardian UK]
"Climate Ostriches: Why Russia's and Pakistan's Extreme Weather Is About to Become the Norm"
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/08/12-8 [Erich Pica Thurs. in HuffPost/Friends of the Earth]
"Errant Climate May Be Sign of Breakdown, Scientists Say; Heat Waves, Fires, Floods Fit Predictions"
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/08/13-2 [Associated Press article from yesterday]
Amy Goodman interview Aug. 10th with Jeff Masters of "Weather Underground" re: Russian heat wave
"Global Warming and the Pakistani Flood" by Matthew Rothschild [Friday's Progressive]
"Why Is the World Unmoved by the Plight of Pakistan?" by Andrew Buncombe
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/08/13-0 [Friday's Independent/UK]
Fact: "Two combined land and sea surface temperature records from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the U.S. National Climatic Data Center both calculate that the first six months of 2010 were the hottest on record; four of the six months also individually showed record highs."
[from "Global Warming Pushes 2010 Temperatures to Record Highs" by Juliette Jowit
[watch video here-- of "Noam Chomsky and Bill McKibben Talk Climate Change" (June 11th)
[also see: "Rethinking Scale and Growth for a More Sustainable World" by Juliet Schor
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From http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/08/14-4 ...
20 Million Made Homeless in Pakistan by Floods; Cholera Outbreak Feared
Impact of Pakistan floods as bad as 1947 partition, says prime minister
Published on Saturday, August 14, 2010 by The Guardian/UK
by David Batty and Saeed Shah in Islamabad
Pakistan's government has compared the impact of the country's devastating floods to the country's partition from India as it revealed more than 20 million people had been made homeless by the disaster.
The prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, said the country faced challenges similar to those during the 1947 partition of the subcontinent into Hindu-dominated India and Muslim-majority Pakistan in which about 500,000 people were killed in mass violence and thousands of families were torn apart as 10 million refugees crossed the new border.
Gilani said 20 million people were now homeless and called on Pakistanis to rise to the occasion, amid growing fears of social unrest or even a military takeover following the government's shambolic response to the floods.
"The nation faced the situation successfully at that time [of the partition] and inshallah [God willing] we will emerge successful in this test," he said.
About 1,600 people have died in the floods and aid agencies expect the toll to rise due to outbreaks of deadly waterborne diseases. A case of cholera was confirmed today in Mingora, the main town in Swat Valley in the north-east of the country, and UN aid workers are taking proactive measures to try to avert a crisis.
A UN humanitarian operations spokesman, Maurizio Giuliano, said at least 36,000 people believed to have potentially fatal acute watery diarrhoea (AWD) were being treated for cholera.
"Given that there is a significant risk of cholera, which is a deadly and dangerous and a potentially epidemic disease, instead of focusing on testing, everyone who has AWD is being treated for cholera," he told Reuters.
Aid agencies have warned that 6 million children are at risk of life-threatening diarrhoeal diseases, malnutrition and pneumonia. Stagnant flood plains in densely populated, poverty-stricken urban areas may become breeding grounds for cholera, mosquitos and malaria.
A spokesman for the UK Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) said: "It's extremely worrying that we are seeing the confirmation of our fears.
"We now have to work very hard to prevent the spread of the disease. The danger is that cholera is both deadly and spreads incredibly easily. Unfortunately the circumstances in Pakistan are against us."
The floods, triggered by torrential monsoon downpours just over two weeks ago, engulfed Pakistan's Indus river basin. Relief operations have yet to reach an estimated 6 million people, fuelling long-held grievances in the flood-hit areas. Villages have been wiped away. Some people only have a patch of land to stand on. But the impact of the disaster will be felt throughout Pakistan's population of 170 million.
President Asif Ali Zardari, who has drawn criticism for going abroad to meet the leaders of Britain and France as the crisis unfolded, today vowed to rebuild the devastated country.
"Despondency is forbidden in our religion. We consider it as a test from Allah for us. This is a test for us and for you," he told flood victims at a relief camp. "We will try to meet all your wishes. We will build a new house for you. We will build a new Pakistan."
Fears that Zardari could be overthrown - possibly through an intervention by the army - have grown as rescuers continue to struggle to help the millions of people affected.
Najam Sethi, editor of the weekly Friday Times, said: "The powers that be, that is the military and bureaucratic establishment, are mulling the formation of a national government, with or without the PPP [the ruling Pakistan People's party]. I know this is definitely being discussed. There is a perception in the army that you need good governance to get out of the economic crisis and there is no good governance."
Other analysts say a military coup is unlikely because the army's priority is fighting the Taliban insurgency, and taking over during a disaster makes no sense.
In Sindh province, flood victims have complained of looting and there are signs of increasing lawlessness.
Gilani and the opposition leader Nawaz Sharif vowed to work together to tackle the crisis.
"Politics at this time is haram [forbidden by Islam]," Sharif said in a joint news conference.
The agricultural heartland has been wiped out, which will cause spiralling food prices and shortages. Many roads and irrigation canals have been destroyed, along with electricity supply infrastructure.
"The immediate risk is one of food riots," said Marie Lall, an Asia expert at Chatham House. "There is already great resentment in Swat and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province where people had to be cleared during the government offensive. Now there is the threat of social unrest as various factions, families and ethnic groups compete with each other in the event of a breakdown in government."
The World Bank estimates that crops worth $1bn (£640m) have been ruined and the Pakistani finance secretary warned today that the disaster would cut the country's growth in half.
The government may have to spend $1.7bn on reconstruction, and has said it will have to divert expenditure from badly needed development programmes.
Fresh downpours could bring more destruction and displacement. Scattered showers with heavy downpours are expected in the upper north-west, upper Punjab, parts of the north and Kashmir over the next 24 hours, according to Pakistan's meteorological department.
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From http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/15/science/earth/15climate.html?hp ...
In Weather Chaos, a Case for Global Warming
The worst flooding in at least 80 years has killed at least 1,384 people and affected 20 million in a continuing crisis.
By JUSTIN GILLIS
Published: August 14, 2010
The summer's heat waves baked the eastern United States, parts of Africa and eastern Asia, and above all Russia, which lost millions of acres of wheat and thousands of lives in a drought worse than any other in the historical record.
Seemingly disconnected, these far-flung disasters are reviving the question of whether global warming is causing more weather extremes.
The collective answer of the scientific community can be boiled down to a single word: probably.
"The climate is changing," said Jay Lawrimore, chief of climate analysis at the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. "Extreme events are occurring with greater frequency, and in many cases with greater intensity."
He described excessive heat, in particular, as "consistent with our understanding of how the climate responds to increasing greenhouse gases."
Theory suggests that a world warming up because of those gases will feature heavier rainstorms in summer, bigger snowstorms in winter, more intense droughts in at least some places and more record-breaking heat waves. Scientists and government reports say the statistical evidence shows that much of this is starting to happen.
But the averages do not necessarily make it easier to link specific weather events, like a given flood or hurricane or heat wave, to climate change. Most climate scientists are reluctant to go that far, noting that weather was characterized by remarkable variability long before humans began burning fossil fuels and releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
"If you ask me as a person, do I think the Russian heat wave has to do with climate change, the answer is yes," said Gavin Schmidt, a climate researcher with NASA in New York. "If you ask me as a scientist whether I have proved it, the answer is no - at least not yet."
In Russia, that kind of scientific caution might once have been embraced. Russia has long played a reluctant, and sometimes obstructionist, role in global negotiations over limiting climate change, perhaps in part because it expected economic benefits from the warming of its vast Siberian hinterland.
But the extreme heat wave, and accompanying drought and wildfires, in normally cool central Russia seems to be prompting a shift in thinking.
"Everyone is talking about climate change now," President Dmitri A. Medvedev told the Russian Security Council this month. "Unfortunately, what is happening now in our central regions is evidence of this global climate change, because we have never in our history faced such weather conditions in the past."
Thermometer measurements show that the earth has warmed by about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit since the Industrial Revolution, when humans began pumping enormous amounts of carbon dioxide, a heat-trapping greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. For this January through July, average temperatures were the warmest on record, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Friday.
The warming has moved in fits and starts, and the cumulative increase may sound modest. But it is an average over the entire planet, representing an immense amount of added heat, and is only the beginning of a trend that most experts believe will worsen substantially.
If the earth were not warming, random variations in the weather should cause about the same number of record-breaking high temperatures and record-breaking low temperatures over a given period. But climatologists have long theorized that in a warming world, the added heat would cause more record highs and fewer record lows.
The statistics suggest that is exactly what is happening. In the United States these days, about two record highs are being set for every record low, telltale evidence that amid all the random variation of weather, the trend is toward a warmer climate.
Climate-change skeptics dispute such statistical arguments, contending that climatologists do not know enough about long-range patterns to draw definitive links between global warming and weather extremes. They cite events like the heat and drought of the 1930s as evidence that extreme weather is nothing new. Those were indeed dire heat waves, contributing to the Dust Bowl, which dislocated millions of Americans and changed the population structure of the United States.
But most researchers trained in climate analysis, while acknowledging that weather data in parts of the world are not as good as they would like, offer evidence to show that weather extremes are getting worse.
A United States government report published in 2008 noted that "in recent decades, most of North America has been experiencing more unusually hot days and nights, fewer unusually cold days and nights, and fewer frost days. Heavy downpours have become more frequent and intense."
The statistics suggest that the Eastern United States may be getting wetter as the arid West dries out further. Places that depend on the runoff from spring snow melt appear particularly vulnerable to climate change, because higher temperatures are making the snow melt earlier, leaving the ground parched by midsummer. That can worsen any drought that develops.
"Global warming, ironically, can actually increase the amount of snow you get," said Kevin Trenberth, head of climate analysis at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. "But it also means the snow season is shorter."
In general, the research suggests that global warming will worsen climate extremes across much of the planet. As in the United States, wet areas will get wetter, the scientists say, while dry areas get drier.
But the patterns are not uniform; changes in wind and ocean circulation could cause unexpected effects, with some areas even cooling down in a warmer world. And long-established weather patterns, like the periodic variations in the Pacific Ocean known as El Niño, will still contribute to unusual events, like heavy rains and cool temperatures in normally arid parts of California.
Scientists say they expect stronger storms, in winter and summer, largely because of the physical principle that warmer air can hold more water vapor.
Typically, a storm of the sort that inundated parts of Tennessee in May, dumping as much as 19 inches of rain over two days, draws moisture from an area much larger than the storm itself. With temperatures rising and more water vapor in the air, such storms can pull in more moisture and thus rain or snow more heavily than storms of old.
It will be a year or two before climate scientists publish definitive analyses of the Russian heat wave and the Pakistani floods, which might shed light on the role of climate change, if any. Some scientists suspect that they were caused or worsened by an unusual kink in the jet stream, the high-altitude flow of air that helps determine weather patterns, though that itself might be linked to climate change. Certain recent weather events were so extreme that a few scientists are shedding their traditional reluctance to ascribe specific disasters to global warming.
After a heat wave in Europe in 2003 that killed an estimated 50,000 people, the worst such catastrophe for that region in the historical record, scientists published detailed analyses suggesting that it would not have been as severe in a climate uninfluenced by greenhouse gases.
And Dr. Trenberth has published work suggesting that Hurricane Katrina dumped at least somewhat more rain on the Gulf Coast because the storm was intensified by global warming.
"It's not the right question to ask if this storm or that storm is due to global warming, or is it natural variability," Dr. Trenberth said. "Nowadays, there's always an element of both."
John Collins Rudolf contributed reporting.
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From http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/08/12-8 ...
Published on Thursday, August 12, 2010 by Huffington Post
Climate Ostriches: Why Russia's and Pakistan's Extreme Weather Is About To Become the Norm
by Erich Pica
Record-setting temperatures in Russia, floods in Pakistan: it's tempting to categorize thesequences.
If Moscow were in the United States, it would be located somewhere just south of Juneau, Alaska. Yet since July 29, Muscovites have endured at least five days that have been hotter than the previous record of 99 degrees, set back in the 1920s. Prior to this summer, Moscow had never seen a day with triple-digit temperatures. Now, it's seen several.
These are more than just a few hot days that can be endured by camping out near an air conditioner. The extreme heat -- the worst weather to occur in Russia in 1,000 years -- and the resulting acute air pollution, have caused the death rate in Moscow to double. Over 15,000 people are likely to have died in this summer's heat wave. Wildfires are burning rampantly, releasing more carbon dioxide, the heat-trapping gas that does the most to cause climate change, into the air. A section of the Siberian tundra one-and-a-half times the size of Texas continues to thaw out.
Potentially more devastating is the effect the heat has had on Russia's grain harvest. Nearly a third of it will be lost from drought and wildfires. This loss will be felt globally; Russia is currently the world's third-largest exporter of grain, and some analysts expect its export to be halved this year, causing prices to skyrocket.
The floods in Pakistan have been equally devastating. They're "worse than the Southeast Asia tsunami ... and the Haiti earthquake." 14 million people have been affected by the flooding, and several thousand have died. Villages that had yet to fully recover from a devastating 2005 earthquake have been essentially washed away. And the rain continues to pour, destroying more lives and keeping rescue efforts from proceeding. Food prices in Pakistan have quadrupled, making basic nutrition unattainable for many.
As Lester Brown explains in Plan B 4.0, climate disruption will have a devastating effect on our food supply. Two different and catastrophic weather patterns in two totally different parts of the world have resulted in the decimation of harvests and widespread food shortages. Even after the temperature in Moscow goes down or the rain stops in Pakistan, these tragic events will continue to pile up casualties from starvation. As grain prices rise around the world and extreme weather patterns become the norm, starvation and malnutrition, already an overwhelming problem, will become more persistent and farther reaching. The scope of climate change goes far beyond simple environmentalism -- it's a fundamental question of how we power ourselves, or grid, and our economy.
The other day, I heard a news story that made reference to the "debate" on climate change. The only "debate" is the willful deception funded by Exxon and peddled by science-denying ideologues like Sen. James Inhofe, Lord Monckton and Glenn Beck. These ideologues, for example, used last winter's vicious snowstorms in Washington, DC to mock those who have been pushing for strong action on climate disruption, not recognizing that those storms were another example of the weather we will soon be forced to accept as normal if we do nothing about climate disruption. While some are starting to change their tune, the media continues to give the more stubborn ideologues credence and legitimize the fallacy of their "debate."
The connection between these weather events and climate change couldn't be more unambiguous. But the mainstream media first avoided referencing climate change, when it should be the headline. CNN, for example, at first seemed to care more about the political fallout from the Russian heat wave. Instead of simply remarking how unprecedented these weather events are, outlets should be asking why they're happening now and what it means for our future, and that means pointing readers to the many scientific studies that help contextualize this activity and show that climate destabilization will cause more extreme weather. That's not advocacy of one viewpoint or another, it's journalism. (Despite some encouraging signs that the media has finally begun to wake up to the relationship between this summer's brutal weather and climate change, this report by the New York Times shows that some editors are still asleep at the wheel.)
We can keep our heads stuck in the sand and pretend what's happening will go away. Or we can disabuse ourselves of any responsibility, just to say "I told you so." Or we can, for once, look at what's happening now and do what's necessary to mitigate and adapt to the forces of our changing planet.
It's clear what our choice has to be.
© 2010 Huffington Post
Erich Pica is President of Friends of the Earth.
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From http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/08/13-2 ...
Published on Friday, August 13, 2010 by Associated Press
Errant Climate May Be Sign of Breakdown, Scientists Say
Heat waves, fires, and floods fit their predictions
by Charles J. Hanley
NEW YORK - Floods, fires, melting ice, and feverish heat - from smoke-choked Moscow to water-soaked Iowa and the High Arctic, the planet seems to be having a midsummer breakdown. It is not just a portent of things to come, scientists say, but a sign of troubling climate change already under way.
The weather-related cataclysms of July and August fit patterns predicted by climate scientists, the Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization says, although those scientists always shy from tying individual disasters directly to global warming.
The specialists see an urgent need for better ways to forecast extreme events like Russia's heat wave and wildfires and the record deluge devastating Pakistan. They will discuss such tools in meetings this month and next in Europe and America, under UN, US, and British government sponsorship.
"There is no time to waste,'' because societies must be equipped to deal with global warming, says British government climatologist Peter Stott.
He said modelers of climate systems are eager to develop supercomputer modeling that would enable more detailed linking of cause and effect as a warming world shifts jet streams and other atmospheric currents. Those changes can wreak havoc on the weather.
The UN's network of climate scientists, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has long predicted that rising global temperatures would produce more frequent and intense heat waves and more intense rainfalls.
In its latest assessment, in 2007, the Nobel Prize-winning panel went beyond that. It said these trends "have already been observed,'' in an increase in heat waves since 1950, for example.
Still, climatologists generally refrain from blaming warming for this drought or that flood, since so many other factors also affect the day's weather.
Stott and NASA's Gavin Schmidt, at the Goddard Institute of Space Studies in New York, said it is better to think in terms of odds: Warming might double the chances for heat waves, for example. "That is exactly what's happening,'' Schmidt said, "a lot more warm extremes and less cold extremes.''
The World Meteorological Organization pointed out that this summer's events fit the international scientists' projections of "more frequent and more intense extreme weather events due to global warming.''
In fact, in key cases they're a perfect fit.
It has been the hottest summer ever recorded in Russia, with Moscow temperatures topping 100 degrees Fahrenheit for the first time. Russia's drought has sparked hundreds of wildfires in forests and dried peat bogs, blanketing Moscow with a toxic smog that lifted yesterday after six days. The Russian capital's death rate doubled to 700 people a day at one point. The drought reduced the wheat harvest by more than one-third.
The 2007 Intergovernmental Panel report predicted a doubling of disastrous droughts in Russia this century and cited studies foreseeing catastrophic fires in dry years. It also said that Russia would suffer large crop losses.
The heaviest monsoon rains on record, 12 inches in one 36-hour period, have sent rivers rampaging over huge swaths of countryside, flooding thousands of villages. It has left 14 million Pakistanis homeless or otherwise affected and killed 1,500.
The government calls it the worst natural disaster in the nation's history.
A warmer atmosphere can hold and discharge more water. The 2007 report said rains have grown heavier for 40 years over north Pakistan and predicted greater flooding this century in south Asia's monsoon region.
China is witnessing its worst floods in decades, the World Meteorological Organization says, particularly in the northwest province of Gansu. There, floods and landslides last weekend killed at least 1,100 people and left more than 600 missing, feared swept away, or buried beneath mud and debris.
The Intergovernmental Panel reported in 2007 that rains had increased in northwest China by up to 33 percent since 1961 and that floods nationwide had increased sevenfold since the 1950s. It predicted still more frequent flooding this century.
In Iowa, soaked by its wettest 36-month period in 127 years of recordkeeping, floods from three nights of rain this week forced hundreds from their homes and killed a 16-year-old girl. The international climate panel projected increased US precipitation this century, except for the Southwest, and more extreme rain events causing flooding.
© 2010 Associated Press