Hotter days ahead …
Opinion By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Showing signs of increasing desperation, global warming deniers are trying to deflect attention from the clear and present danger of heatwaves, severe storms and wildfires by publishing questionable long-range weather maps suggesting next winter will bring below average temperatures.
Hardly anyone is listening. It’s tough to pay attention to nonsense when the temperature outside is 107 and an unusually intense thunderstorm knocks out your power.
Plus, the same people, like infamous denier Joe Bastardi, to name just one, have made the same claims before, only to be proved wrong time and time again. During last summer’s brutal heat wave, they told us not to worry, next year will be cooler.
Guess what? Now it’s “next year” and it’s hotter than ever. Perhaps the exact location of the hotspots have shifted a bit, but the bottom line is, people are starting to notice that the extreme heat is not letting up. To the contrary, the ratio of record highs compared to record lows keeps increasing and the heatwaves are lasting longer.
Four tropical storms form early in the season; one of them soaks up energy from the bathtub warm waters of the Gulf, then converts all that excess energy into a fury of rain that leaves parts of Florida under water.
A few days later, an intense line of thunderstorms plows eastward, hitting major East Coast cities like a climate sledgehammer. A day later, similar storms, almost subtropical in nature, sweep across north-central Europe.
Soon, very soon, the big global warming denial myth will crumble, as we all ask ourselves why we waited so long to react. But then, it could be too late for millions of people worldwide at risk of succumbing to excess heat, drought and rising sea level.
Along with the heat, it’s getting drier, probably no surprise since, even if it rains, the moisture quickly evaporates. As of Saturday, the U.S. set an all-time record for dryness, with 72.01 percent of the country experiencing some level of abnormal dryness, breaking the record set in 2002, another unusually hot and dry year.
Saturday morning, fully one-third of the U.S. population was under warnings for extreme heat, and Colorado is a bullseye for the weather, with the entire state experiencing some level of drought. Extreme drought prevails in parts of the state that are usually a haven from such conditions, including the northwestern corner and down through the central mountains.
Just last week, a group of scientists pointed out the links between global warming and weather patterns that make destructive wildfires more likely, especially in the Southwest, meshing with repeated climate predictions for the region that come from various sources.
Here’s the language from a federal report on climate change impacts:
“Human-induced climate change appears to be well underway in the Southwest. Recent warming is among the most rapid in the nation, significantly more than the global average in some areas …”This is driving declines in spring snowpack and Colorado River flows … both the frequency of large wildfires and the length of the fire season have increased substantially in recent decades, due primarily to earlier spring snowmelt and higher spring and summer temperatures.”
“Projections suggest continued strong warming, with much larger increases under higher emissions scenarios compared to lower scenarios. Projected summertime temperature increases are greater than the annual-average increases in some parts of the region, and are likely to be exacerbated locally by expanding urban heat island effects. Further water cycle changes are projected, which, combined with increasing temperatures, signal a serious water supply challenge in the decades and centuries ahead.”
In Colorado, the past 12 months have been filled with extreme’s from the near-record snows of 2011-2012, to an all-time record early snowmelt season and several of the warmest-ever months on record. The mid-June heatwave may go down as the most intense on record, with the June 26 high of 105 degrees setting a record for the hottest June day ever.
June also marked only the third time on record that Denver had a string of five days with temperatures above 100 degrees. Both other times are also during the modern global warming era, in 1988 and 2005, and they both came a little later in the year.