Freeze or Boil: An Extreme New Earth

Climate change means extreme weather the new norm
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 15, 2010 3:23 PM CDT
Freeze or Boil: An Extreme New Earth
This NOAA satellite image taken Thursday, Feb. 11, 2010 shows a swath of clouds streaming over the Southern Plains and the Southeast highlighting flow associated with the subtropical jet.   (AP PHOTO/WEATHER UNDERGROUND)

Remember last winter, when the only thing keeping you warm while shoveling the snow that would not stop falling was the sound of gleeful cackles coming from climate change deniers? Well, the New York Times would like to know who's laughing now, as Russia burns, Pakistan drowns, and the rest of the world takes turns with extreme weather. “The climate is changing,” says one expert. “Extreme events are occurring with greater frequency, and in many cases with greater intensity.”

Earth has warmed an average of 1.4 degrees since the Industrial Revolution—which is a lot of heat when you think about that spread out over the entire planet. And while scientists have yet to specifically link extreme weather to global warming, the majority of research points toward it. Warmer air holds more moisture, which means rain storms and snow storms alike have greater potential, meaning wet areas get wetter and dry areas get drier. “It’s not the right question to ask if this storm or that storm is due to global warming, or is it natural variability,” says another expert. “Nowadays, there’s always an element of both.” (Read more global warming stories.)

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