July 19, 2012

Record High Temperatures

Image Source: Climate Central

There has been a growing imbalance between record daily high temperatures in the contiguous U.S. and record daily lows. 

study published in 2009 found that rather than a 1-to-1 ratio, as would be expected if the climate were not warming, the ratio has been closer to 2-to-1 in favor of warm temperature records during the past decade (2000-2009). This finding cannot be explained by natural climate variability alone, the study found, and is instead consistent with global warming.

Driving on Sunshine

Geoarge Shultz speaking on climate and electric cars. 

"It's not a matter of opinion, it's a matter of fact that the globe is warming," said the Republican elder statesman.

While his Republican colleagues continue to dither about climate change and search for the best ways to do nothing about it, elder statesman George Shultz is bucking the party establishment.

In a recent interview with the Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford University, Shultz expressed his belief in taking action on climate change, explained his support for a carbon tax and gushed about his all-electric Nissan LEAF.
I have my electric car running on electricity from the sun, which costs me nothing and there is plenty of it here. So, I'm driving on sunshine.

The 91-year-old Shultz, a stalwart in the Republican ranks for decades, was secretary of State in the Reagan administration; secretary of Treasury, secretary of Labor and headed the Office of Management in the Nixon administration; and now leads Hoover Institution's Shultz-Stephenson Task Force on Energy Policy at Stanford University and chairs the advisory boards of Stanford's Precourt Institute for Energy and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Energy Initiative.  http://youtu.be/KR39TfpyAgY

Health Impacts of Fukushima

Roughly 130 people are likely to die from radiation exposure and another 180 die from cancer as a result of the March 2011 meltdown of the Fukushima-Daichi nuclear power station in Japan, according to a new study by Stanford University researchers.

The researchers presented a wide range of possible fatalities from the disaster, estimating that 15 to 1,300 people could die from direct radiation exposure. The scientists also said that an estimated 24 to 2,500 people could contract cancer from exposure to radiation following the meltdown.

Reporting in the journal Energy and Environmental Science, the researchers settled on the figures of 130 direct exposure fatalities and 180 cancer fatalities as their best estimates of the health impacts. Nearly all of the people affected live in Japan.

How hot was it?

The Braidwood Nuclear Power Plant in Bracewell, Illinois
It was so hot that a twin-unit nuclear plant in northeastern Illinois had to get special permission to continue operating after the temperature of the water in its cooling pond rose to 102 degrees.
It was the second such request from the plant, Braidwood, which opened 26 years ago.  When it was new, the plant had permission to run as long as the temperature of its cooling water pond, a 2,500-acre lake in a former strip mine, remained below 98 degrees; in 2000 it got permission to raise the limit to 100 degrees.
The problem, said Craig Nesbit, a spokesman for Exelon, which owns the plant, is not only the hot days, but the hot nights. In normal weather, the water in the lake heats up during the day but cools down at night; lately, nighttime temperatures have been in the 90s, so the water does not cool.
Asked whether he viewed Braidwood's difficulties as a byproduct of global warming, Mr. Nesbit said: "I'm not a climatologist. But clearly the calculations when the plant was first operated in 1986 are not what is sufficient today.
Braidwood is not alone in facing a difficult summer; a spokeswoman for the Midwest Independent System Operator, which operates the regional grid, said that another plant had shut down because its water intake pipes were now above the water level of the body from which it draws its cooling water. Another is "partially curtailed."
Braidwood got permission from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to continue operating last week when its cooling water hit 102 degrees even though the plant is supposed to shut within 6 hours if the lake's temperature exceeds 100.
Mr. Nesbit said that Exelon's Quad Cities plant has sometimes had to shut down when the temperature of the water it discharges is too high to go back into the Mississippi. The reason for the elevated temperature is that the water it takes in is warm, too.

Thousands rally to protest nuclear power

In Japan's largest antinuclear rally since the disaster at Fukushima, tens of thousands of protesters gathered at a park in central Tokyo on Monday to urge the government to halt its restarting of the nation's reactors.

Organizers said 170,000 people filled a Tokyo square to sing songs, beat drums and cheer on a series of high-profile speakers who called for more Japanese to make their voices heard. The police put the number at 75,000, still making it the biggest gathering of antinuclear protesters since the Fukushima accident last year.
"To stay silent in the wake of Fukushima is inhuman," the Oscar-winning musician Ryuichi Sakamoto told the crowd, which braved soaring temperatures to gather at Yoyogi Park.
Polls suggest that public opinion is still divided over the future of nuclear power in Japan. But a unilateral decision last month by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda to start putting the country's reactors back into use has angered many Japanese and galvanized the antinuclear camp.
Antinuclear protests have gained momentum especially here in the capital, where tens of thousands of protesters now gather every week to shout slogans in front of Mr. Noda's official residence. [NY Times]

July 14, 2012

Food or Fuel?

The nearly 5 billion bushels of corn that will be cordoned off to create ethanol could feed 412 million people for an entire year. Instead, it will be turned into 13.5 billion gallons of corn ethanol. 

Public Lands, Private Profits

Should we mine for uranium on Grand Canyon? Should we frack the Bridger Teton National for natural gas? Should we mine for coal near Bryce Canyon?

This short video series talks about current plans to do all three. If you care about the future of some of America's greatest treasures and the most beautiful areas of our country - watch these videos.

Judge rules government must protect our air

A Texas judge has ruled that the atmosphere and air must be protected for public use, just like water, which could help attorneys tasked with arguing climate change lawsuits designed to force states to cut emissions. [Washington Post]
Adam Abrams, one of the attorneys arguing the case... said [the] ruling could be used as a persuasive argument in lawsuits pending in 11 other states. 
In Texas, though, a ruling to protect air and the atmosphere has added significance. Republican Gov. Rick Perry is one of the most vocal opponents against widely accepted scientific research that fossil fuel emissions are causing global warming. And the state has refused to regulate greenhouse gases, forcing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to work directly with industries to ensure they comply with federal law.
"The commission's conclusion that the public trust doctrine is exclusively limited to the conservation of water is legally invalid," Triana wrote.
The lawsuit was brought by the Texas Environmental Law Center, and is part of a court campaign in a dozen states by an Oregon-based nonprofit, Our Children's Trust. The group is using children and young adults as plaintiffs in the lawsuits — some state and some federal — filed in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas and Washington.
By relying on "common law" theories, the group hopes to have the atmosphere declared a public trust for the first time, granting it special protection. The doctrine has been used to clean up rivers and coastlines, but many legal experts have been unsure if it could be used successfully to combat climate change.
Still, Abrams, who has handled the Texas case on behalf of the Texas Environmental Law Center, believes Triana's ruling can be used to argue the cases in other states. So far, he said, this is the first judge to back the group, though a New Mexico court recently allowed the case to go forward.
"I think it's huge that we got a judge to acknowledge that the atmosphere is a public trust asset and the air is a public trust asset," Abrams said. "It's the first time we've had verbage like this come out of one of these cases."

US Renewables hit 5%

The U.S. generated 5 percent of the country's annual electricity from renewable sources, between April 2011 and March 2012, according to preliminary data from the Energy Information Administration.
To be exact, the U.S. generated 204 terawatt-hours ('TWh") out of 4,070 TWh from non-hydro renewables.
Putting this annual total of non-hydro renewable generation in context, this is:
  • More than the individual electrical usage of 197 nations (92 percent of all nations), including Indonesia, Mexico, Turkey, and Thailand. 
  • More than the combined electrical usage of the Philippines, Switzerland, and Malaysia.
  • Enough electrical energy to power about 16 million American homes, deducting about 10 percent for transmission and distribution losses.
How are we doing compared to other countries?  
Germany has about 20 percent annual renewable power generation, which can result in greater than 50 percent of electrical energy from just solar PV for short durations.
Sweden, Portugal, Finland, Spain, and Denmark also have non-hydro renewable power penetration well above the U.S..
In Asia, China is now experiencing very aggressive renewable power growth rates and indeed is ahead of the U.S. with the most non-hydro renewable power capacity installed
What is the takeaway? 

Renewable power has become a mainstream source of power that will increasingly challenge existing electricity generation and provision business models, particularly as distributed solutions (electric vehicles, demand response, PV, etc.) take off.

Networks get extreme weather story right!

ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS all get the extreme weather story right! 

Kalamazoo River Oil Spill

Preventable safety blunders by the pipeline operator Enbridge and lax federal regulation led to the disastrous 2010 rupture and oil spill in the Kalamazoo River, the National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday. 

Corrosion and cracks overlapped in many areas of the pipeline, but the company failed to consider the problem in safety evaluations, it said. The pipeline spewed 843,000 gallons of oil sands crude into the river, soiling 35 miles of wetlands and waterways and sickening 320 people and nearly 4,000 animals. 

The board voted unanimously to accept the findings and recommendations of its investigators, which include revising the federal pipeline safety agency's rules on identifying and fixing cracks, conducting a comprehensive inspection of Enbridge's pipeline management program and requiring operators to train first responders in best practices for responding to spills.

July 10, 2012

Thoughts from Climate Summer

This was written by one of the Climate Summer bicyclists that visited Lexington earlier this summer. 

by Andrew Nguyen

"The goal in life isn't to live forever, the goal is to make something that will."      -Chuck Palahniuk
As the realization begins to set in that this is what we're giving our summer to, so does the inevitable doubt and second-guessing. Wide-eyed and hopeful youth still unchained by the approaching demands of work, family, and other concerns—is life being lived to the fullest?
Is Climate Summer making a difference? Am I making a difference? Can I?
At the end of the day, I may never know if any of my environmental work helps mitigate climate change.
And that's okay.
That does not mean to say I do not care if climate change ends up destroying our species and planet, but rather that I will be at peace with the path I've chosen to take.
In the end, it is about living one's morals. Thich Nhat Hanh says, "Our own life has to be our message."  In this world where corruption runs rampant and is propped up by complex, artificial systems, it is easy, even acceptable, to become apathetic.
That doesn't make apathy morally just.
During my involvement with the environmental movement, I've met many apathetic people. These people know the effects of climate change and realize the imperative to stop it but are resigned and feel powerless. The system is too big. We're too dependent on fossil fuels. I'm only one person.
I'm guilty of feeling overwhelmed and wanting to give up myself. But caving in, following the pack, and allowing my life to be governed by the pursuit of goods and wealth isn't the solution. It is only reinforcing our current materialistic, selfish culture.
A reframing of values, one based upon community, love, and harmony—true intrinsic values that have been corrupted by envy and competition—leads to a retooling of one's sense of purpose.
The same can be said for the drive of one's purpose. Reframing the thought, "I am onlyone person," into, "I am someone," revitalizes one's drive. I have a voice and not only that; I am part of a collective choir. Society tries to make people forget this by driving them apart.
You need to be independent. You need to be the best. Be cutthroat. Be greedy. Be selfish. Take care of yourself and forget about others.
We've lost trust. We've lost care. We've lost love.   
It is reaffirming and nourishing a sense of belonging that will allow us to come together, not as individuals, but as a community. That is the work I am doing this summer—rebuilding the ties and bonds, which have been severed by the influence of society. And together, united, we will be able to make change.
Andrew Nguyen

Welcome to the rest of our lives

A compilation of recent extreme weather events.

Hottest Year on Record

During the June 2011 - June 2012 period, each of the 13 consecutive months ranked among the warmest third of their historical distribution for the first time in the 1895-present record. The odds of this occurring randomly (without climate change) is 1 in 1,594,323.

To put this into perspective - if there was no climate change - we shouldn't see another 13 months this hot until 124,652 AD! 

But like a baseball player on steroids, our atmosphere has been "juiced" with human emissions of greenhouse gases, which means we are going to be breaking heat records at an "unnatural" pace for a long, long time. 

Black Lung Cases Surge

NPR reports that cases of the worst stages of black lung disease have doubled nationwide in the last decade and have quadrupled in Appalachia in the same time period. 

I can't help remembering that the Massey Energy coal mine explosion was caused by excessive coal dust. The Mine Safety and Health Administration found that the company's culture of favoring production over safety contributed to flagrant safety violations that caused the coal dust explosion. Now we are seeing the effects of excessive coal dust on the rest of the miners' health. 

"The autopsies of the 29 victims of the 2010 explosion at what was then Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch mine also show... 71 percent had the nodules and lesions on their lungs that signify the disease.
That's a rate 10 times the average for southern West Virginia, says Davitt McAteer, a former federal mine safety chief who led an independent investigation of the explosion, in Raleigh County, W. Va., and reviewed the autopsies.
"What was shocking was the number of miners who showed evidence of black lung," McAteer says, "particularly among younger miners ... and miners who you would not have expected to have black lung."


An analysis of federal data by CPI and NPR shows that the mining industry and federal regulators have known for more than two decades that coal miners were breathing excessive amounts of the coal mine dust that causes black lung. CPI and NPR also found that the system for controlling coal mine dust is plagued by weak regulations and inaccurate reporting that sometimes includes fraud.
"This is clearly a public health epidemic," Laney says. "This is a rare disease that should not be occurring. It's occurring at a high proportion of individuals who are being exposed."
Especially shocking to Laney and others focused on black lung is the grip the disease has on younger miners and its rapid evolution to progressive massive fibrosis, or complicated black lung.
"From the patterns and from the severity, from the prevalence of the disease, this must be a situation in which the dust in many, many mines is simply not adequately controlled," says Edward Petsonk, a pulmonologist at West Virginia University and a consultant for NIOSH. "There's nothing else that could possibly cause this."

July 9, 2012

Flooding claims 170 in Russia

President Vladimir Putin declared a national day of mourning for the victims of flash floods in southern RussiaInterior Ministry officials said the number of people killed had risen to more than 170. 
About 11 inches of rain fell Friday night and early Saturday on the Krasnodar region near the Black Sea. The heaviest downfalls were reported between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. Saturday, and they were quickly funneled into torrents by the hilly terrain. Thousands of homes were flooded, in many cases as their occupants slept.

Officials said that so much rain fell so quickly that there was little chance to warn people on a wide scale.
"The kick of the elements was so powerful and treacherous that it left people little chance of survival," Dmitri O. Rogozin, the deputy prime minister, wrote on Twitter.
Climate scientists predict that we will see more and more extreme storms like this as the global temperature rises. 

Heat Kink derails train

The kink in the track where Green Line trains derailed
Friday may have been caused by extreme heat. (WMATA)

Metro said Saturday that investigators had tentatively determined that a heat kink caused the Green Line derailment Friday in Prince George's County. 

Heat kinks are sections of rail that expand in hot weather until they warp out of alignment with the surrounding track, and in its statement, Metro said such a kink that was the "probable cause" of the derailment.
The agency also released a photo of the warped rails that caused three Metro cars to leave their tracks.
Other factors are also being investigated, the transit agency said.
According to Metro spokesman Dan Stessel, heat kinks are more likely to occur when the air temperature exceeds 95 degrees, as it has done in Washington for much of the last week. In such weather, the temperature of the tracks themselves can climb up to 140 degrees.

The 55 passengers aboard Friday's derailed train experienced no major injuries, and Metro redirected its scheduled maintenance teams to the task of restoring Green Line service over the weekend. Metro said it expects service to be back to normal in time for Monday's morning commute.

Nature makes a mockery of our vanity

CASCADE, Colo. - Nature makes a mockery of our vanity. We live in flood and fire zones, nurture stately oaks and take shade under pines holding the best air of the Rocky Mountains. We plant villas next to sandstone spires called the Garden of the Gods, and McMansions in Virginia stocked with people who have the world at their fingertips.
Then, with a clap, a boom and a roar, fire marches through a subdivision on a conveyance of 60 mile an hour winds. A platoon of thunderstorms so loaded with energy it has its own category name - derecho - cuts a swath from east of Chicago to the Atlantic.
The pines flame and hiss, shooting sparks on the house next door, a fortress no more. The oaks tumble and crush roofs. Almost 350 homes burn to the ground, and nearly 5 million people lose all electricity in sweltering heat. Lobbyists and congressmen curse at mute cellphones and sweat through their seersucker. The powerful are powerless.
So it went the first 10 days of summer, another extraordinary chapter in a weather year of living dangerously. At one point, 113 million Americans were under an extreme heat advisory. It was 109 degrees in Nashville, 104 in Washington, D.C., and much of the West was aflame.

If recent history is a guide, it will all be soon forgotten and dismissed. Amnesia, in regard to unpleasant science, is the guiding principle for a political party that has an even chance of winning everything that matters this year.
But at a time when warnings of violence are too often attached to the weather forecast, the unpleasantness may not be so easy to wish away. At the least, we should get used to intimacy with a ferocious new face of nature.
It is one thing to hear that 3,215 daily high temperature records were set in June throughout the United States, following a winter and spring that were the warmest ever recorded. Numbers are like box scores.
It is another to look up from the eerie serenity of the Holy Cross Novitiate here in this chalk-dry hamlet west of Colorado Springs and see the ridge on fire, as if bombed from aerial assault, as the Rev. Kevin Russeau did. The 1922 novitiate is built of marble that was shipped from Chicago after a zeppelin crash destroyed a building there. It is supposed to be fireproof, protecting men devoted to a life of prayer and humility.
"The sheriff called and said you've got to get out," said Father Russeau. He and about a dozen novices evacuated, and the fire skipped over their compound. After returning, the priest said he would never look at the Rockies the same.
"We respect fire," he said. "We know what fire can do."
Just down the mountain from him, the storm of the Waldo Canyon fire forced 32,000 people out of their homes. The most destructive wildfire in Colorado history tore through half-million-dollar houses near the Garden of the Gods, at the edge of a city that has shrunk its police and fire department in a tax-cutting binge.
"Unreal," said residents, after returning to ashen lots.
"Surreal," said Colorado's governor, John Hickenlooper.
In Colorado Springs, where even municipal officials have taken the mindless Grover Norquist pledge to never raise taxes, it cost at least $12 million in tax money - most of it from the rest of us - to contain the fire. Not everybody thinks like Norquist.
In the West, the populated fire zone is called the urban wildland interface, a clunky term to describe a vulnerable habitat for almost 40 percent of new homes built over the last two decades. And the fire danger will only grow, as 40 million acres of ghost forests - standing trees killed by an epidemic of bark beetles that metastasize in warmer winters - are ready to burn.
Summer is barely two weeks old and two-thirds of the country is in the grip of a severe drought. More crops will die. More forests will burn. More power brokers will become familiar with the consequences of a derecho. It sounds biblical, but smart scientists have been predicting this very cycle.
In March, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned in a special report of "unprecedented extreme weather and climate events" to come. The events are here, though the skeptics now running the Republican Party deny the obvious, in large part because they are paid to deny the obvious.
But for those who are already familiar with the new face of nature, no amount of posturing can wish away the fire this time.
"When you live up here now, it's always a question of when, not if," said Eric Eide, head of the volunteer fire department in Cascade. He's been on duty, without pay, for almost two weeks. A few days ago, when it looked as if all 140 homes of Cascade would burn, Eide's volunteers joined federal firefighters in digging a line and saving the town. It was a daring triage, and heroic. By summer's end, such actions may be routine - the price of living in a new world that we made, but can no longer dominate.

Record High Temperatures across US

The toll from record high temperatures across the United States is mounting. As triple digit temperatures and an intense drought spread, conditions for wildfires continue to get worse, livestock suffers, and corn crops are under threat. Even the mighty Mississippi River is seeing its waters recede.

St. Louis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis and Chicago are just some of the Midwestern cities with record high temperatures this week. In St. Louis, a record high high temperature of 105 was followed up by a record high low temperature of 83. Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin also set records with their low temperatures.

The heat wave isn't limited to the Midwest. Here in Washington DC, we're experiencing our record ninth consecutive day over 95 degrees, with at least two more days in the 100′s on the way.

Compounding the issue are massive power outages still seen in parts of the country — a consequence of severe storms that hit last week. In Michigan, around 300,000 residents are still without electricity.

According to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center, over 4,000 daily heat records have been broken in the last 30 days, including 224 all-time heat records. Tomorrow, the expected high in Washington, DC is 106, which would be the highest recorded temperature since 1930.

The heat and associated drought are wreaking havoc on the nation's corn crop. The U.S. is the world's largest producer of corn and 2012 was supposed to be a banner year. Farmers planted 96.4 million acres of corn, a 5 percent increase over last year. But the heat and drought have already caused much of it to shrivel and die. "We're talking five-feet-tall corn with no ears, no shoots and no tassels," said Randy Anderson, a farmer from Illinois. "It wears on your nerves to even look."

Temperatures soared in places like Jefferson County, Missouri, where the high hit 111 and parts of five corn producing states are now suffering from drought conditions. Almost all of Ohio is now officially in drought. Columbus, Ohio had only 2.01 inches of precipitation in June, a full 2 inches below normal — and experts believe that between 5 and 10 inches of rain is necessary to fully end the problems.

As the corn crop now enters a crucial pollination phase, it is even more vulnerable to the heat and lack of rain: "This is a very narrow window for corn, and there's little room for error," said Brad Rippey, an agricultural meteorologist for the United States Department of Agriculture. "Whatever happens in that window, it is what it is — that cob is made or broken."
"This is a moving target," said Darrel L. Good, a professor emeritus of agricultural and consumer economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "But what we know is this: There's been some permanent and substantive yield reduction already, and we're on the cusp, depending on the weather, of taking that down quite a bit more."
The Mississippi River is also being impacted by the extreme weather conditions. In Vicksburg, Mississippi, the river is 4.79 feet deep, more than 38 feet below its flood stage depth. Some boats, such as the American Queen— one the largest paddle boats ever built — can't access Vicksburg's docks.

According to Robert Latham, the director of Mississippi's Emergency Management Agency, the drought conditions, in conjunction with the lack of northern runoff from melting snow pack due to the mild and dry winter, have contributed to the low water level.
"When you look back at this past winter, one of the things that impacts us is the snow pack and the melt that causes the fluctuation in the river levels," he said. "We didn't have that snow pack that we had over a year ago."
Although this is the time of year when the Mississippi sees its lowest water levels, depths are usually closer to 20 feet.

According to NOAA, El NiƱo conditions may be starting this summer. Though this may bring some much needed immediate relief to much of the country, it sets the stage for even higher temperatures next year.

As drought conditions worsen, climate scientists warn about the role of man-made climate change in intensifying the problem.

Speaking about last year's devastating drought in Texas and Oklahoma, Texas A&M, climate scientist Andrew Dessler said last August that "there is absolutely no way you can conclude that climate change is not playing a role here."  Texas climatologist Katherine Hayhoe also recently explained that "our natural variability is now occurring on top of, and interacting with, background conditions that have already been altered by long-term climate change."

In addition, NASA climatologists, including James Hansen, released peer-reviewed research concluding that the Texas heat wave was "a consequence of global warming because their likelihood was negligible prior to the recent rapid global warming."

Fukushima - A Man Made Disaster

The nuclear accident at Fukushima was a preventable disaster rooted in government-industry collusion and the worst conformist conventions of Japanese culture, a parliamentary inquiry concluded on Thursday.

The report, released by the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission, also warned that the plant may have been damaged by the earthquake on March 11, 2011, even before the arrival of a tsunami — a worrying concern as the quake-prone country starts to bring its reactor fleet back online.

The commission challenged some of the main story lines that the government and the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant has put forward to explain what went wrong in the early days of the crisis.
"It was a profoundly man-made disaster that could and should have been foreseen and prevented. And its effects could have been mitigated by a more effective human response," Kiyoshi Kurokawa, the commission's chairman and the former head of Tokyo University's Department of Medicine, said in the report's introduction.
But by suggesting that the plant may have sustained extensive damage from the quake — a far more frequent occurrence in Japan — the report in effect casts doubts on the safety of Japan's entire fleet of nuclear plants.

Fires: A Strong Indicator Our Climate is Changing

"We've had record fires in 10 states in the last decade, most of them in the West," said Agriculture Department Undersecretary Harris Sherman, who oversees the Forest Service. 

Over the past 10 years, the wildfire season that normally runs from June to September expanded to include May and October. Once, it was rare to see 5 million cumulative acres burn in a year, but some recent seasons have recorded twice that.

"The climate is changing, and these fires are a very strong indicator of that," Sherman said.

This is what climate change looks like

Millions of people learned a new word last the weekend: "derecho." It was not a happy lesson. [New York Times]

If you want a glimpse of some of the worst of global warming, scientists suggest taking a look at U.S. weather in recent weeks. [Washington Post]

After several years of relatively benign fire seasons, the West is headed into a hot, dry summer of potentially ferocious blazes like the ones that have scorched Colorado in recent weeks. [Los Angeles Times]

July 2, 2012

Colorado Wildfire

Colorado and U.S. Forest Service firefighters are battling the state’s most destructive wildfires ever. Lightning and suspected arson ignited them four weeks ago, but scientists and federal officials say the table was set by a culprit that will probably contribute to bigger and more frequent wildfires for years to come: climate change. [Washington Post]

Firefighters in Colorado Springs struggle to gain control after a forest fire that started west of the city. An AP aerial tour of one neighborhood showed hundreds of heavily damaged or destroyed homes as well as charred forests.