If you thought that 2012 felt abnormally warm, you’d be right. With an average temperature of 55.3 degrees, a full degree higher than the next hottest year and 3.2 degrees hotter than the average in the 20th century, 2012 will go down as the hottest year recorded in the continental United States.
From unusually warm weather in the winter months in the Upper Midwest to drought-inducing scorching temperatures in Texas to superstorms that devastated the East Coast, 2012 continued a trend of rising temperatures. In fact, temperatures have been above normal in every month since June 2011.
From the Washington Post:
Federal scientists said that the data were compelling evidence that climate change is affecting weather in the United States and suggest that the nation’s weather is likely to be hotter, drier and potentially more extreme than it would have been without the warmer temperatures.
Last year’s record temperature is “clearly symptomatic of a changing climate,” said Thomas R. Karl, who directs NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center. Americans can now see the sustained warmth over the course of their own lifetimes — “something we haven’t seen before.” He added, “That doesn’t mean every season and every year is going to be breaking all-time records, but you’re going to see this with increasing frequency.”
Despite the assertions from climate deniers and those that fund them that everything is alright and there’s no need to take steps to protect our communities and way of life, it’s clear that our climate is changing and our world is warming.
We need to redouble our efforts to reduce carbon emissions in America and around the world to mitigate the rise in temperature. But, we also have to accept that we need to take steps to deal with the repercussions of climate change in our communities. That means making sure our transit infrastructure is protected from flash floods caused by storms and rising sea levels, our electrical grid is updated to a smart grid to reduce blackouts and utilizes renewable and highly efficient sources of energy, and our wastewater infrastructure is ready to handle weather events that used to happen once a century, but that now will be happening with alarming frequency.
You know how you get a bill in the mail and you aren’t quite sure how much it is and you’re kind of afraid to open it to find out? That’s where our nation is at with climate change. We know the bill has come due but we’ve been afraid to face the reality of it. We cannot afford to do that any longer, as the next notice of overdue payment will just keep increasing the cost.
For our sake, for our communities, and for future generations of people in America and all over the world, all of us — not just our leaders — need to get in gear and reduce carbon emissions and get our nation ready for the new climate reality.