Climate scientists have warned of the effects of global warming and climate change since at least 1988. They warned it would bring increased heat waves, more droughts, sudden downpours, widespread wildfires and terrible storms, all of which are currently happening in the U.S., stifling agriculture, costing billions of dollars in damage and forcing millions to live for days without electricity in the aftermath of a freak wind storm, know as a derecho.
"So far this year, more than 2.1 million acres have burned in wildfires, more than 113 million people in the U.S. were in areas under extreme heat advisories last Friday, two-thirds of the country is experiencing drought, and earlier in June, deluges flooded Minnesota and Florida," The Associated Press reports. It takes intensive scientific study to link individual weather events to climate change, and the extreme conditions in the U.S. aren't being seen elsewhere in the world, but leading climate scientists say that the U.S. is experiencing a microcosm of the very real effects of climate change.
"This is what global warming looks like at the regional or personal level," Jonathan Overpeck, geosciences and atmospheric sciences professor at the University of Arizona, told AP. "The extra heat increases the odds of worse heat waves, droughts, storms and wildfire. This is certainly what I and many other climate scientists have been warning about." The National Center for Atmospheric Research's lead climate scientist, Kevin Trenberth, said the extreme conditions are exactly what he has said would happen as a result of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned of these types of events in March, but not many paid much attention.
The weather patterns aren't just a summer thing; they've been happening since this past winter, AP reports. Since Jan. 1, there have been more than 40,000 high temperature records, but fewer than 6,000 low records, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Though skeptics believe climate change is a myth, almost all scientists who publish research in the field say it is real, and that the U.S. and the world can expect to see many more instances of extreme weather conditions in the future as a result of climate change. (Read more)