Alert for 08.13.2012 -- WA, CA, AZ & LA: What Do These States Have in Common?

Aug 16, 2012 3:45 PM ET

No, this is not a political poll on the forthcoming elections; it has nothing to do with gas prices being paid at the pump; nor is about the fiscal status of each state and its numerous municipalities. The answer?

They are cool - or cooler -- this year.  These are the only four states in the continental US to record temperatures near their averages in July 2012. Every other state was above average -- and incredibly in 32 of those higher-temp states, July was one of the top ten warmest months on record. Taken together, the extreme heat of July has rendered the month as the hottest ever in over 1400 months of record keeping, which began back in 1895!

"The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during July was 77.6°F, 3.3°F above the 20th century average, marking the hottest July and the hottest month on record for the nation. The previous warmest July for the nation was July 1936 when the average U.S. temperature was 77.4°F. The warm July temperatures contributed to a record-warm first seven months of the year and the warmest 12-month period the nation has experienced since recordkeeping began in 1895." (Source: NOAA-National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

So what to make of this extended string of hot weather? Ahaa - these are clear signs of the impact of global warming, say those who believe that global warming (and its dire effects) are upon us.   Nahhh-- just more seasonal cycles say some of the prominent skeptics. Where does the truth lie?

A mounting stack of academic and scientific studies are pointing to a warming planet -- usually with dramatic and unwanted results predicted if  "something" (many things) are not done -- quickly.  A very prominent NASA scientist just came out with a paper that could add heft to those arguing global warming effects are real.

One thing is for certain: the summer heat and accompanying drought are very real this summer - and deserve careful, unbiased study.  Humans have long impacted the physical world in many ways.  Have we been causing heat to rise?  The consensus among scientists is "yes."  There are prominent naysayers on the other side, such as members of congress and the leader of the giant ExxonMobil enterprise.

The editors present news and commentary on this critical debate for you in the Hot Topic section: Global Warming and Climate Change.

Rising Temps/Rising Debate
As the heat has been rising, the last three years have seen an every-increasing and enlivened debate about human-caused climate change -- which is challenged by some doubters who feel the changes are just normal cycles.

While significant portions of the American public apparently still don’t believe in the problems of climate change/global warming -- and with many world governments unable to agree on a course of action -- AC will continue to focus on potentially one of the greatest issues world society faces. The record-breaking heat of July in the USA serves to further increase the intensity of the spotlight on this issue. Just take a look at some of our most recent articles:

What Cornfields Show, Data Now Confirm: July Set Mark as US’s Hottest Month
(Source: New York Times) It may come as little surprise to the nation’s corn farmers or resort operators, but the official statistics are in: July was the hottest month in the lower 48 states since the government began keeping temperature records in 1895.

Atlantic season could produce more hurricanes
(Source: AP/Tand) The Atlantic hurricane season got off to an early start and will likely stay busy, producing a few more storms than originally predicted. Forecasters said warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures and wind patterns that favor storm formation mean chances are higher for an above-normal season.

US biofuel production should be suspended, UN says
(Source: BBC)The United Nations food agency has called on the United States to suspend its production of biofuel ethanol. Under US law, 40% of the corn harvest must be used to make biofuel, a quota which the UN says could contribute to a food crisis around the world. A drought and heat wave across the US has destroyed much of the country's corn crop, driving up prices.

Natural Gas Increases are Diminishing Carbon Emissions
(Source: Energy U.S. carbon dioxide emissions are falling. New data by a governmental branch is saying that the switch from coal to unconventional forms of natural gas is the main reason, followed by an unusually warm 2012 winter.

New study links wildfires and climate change
(Source: Deseret News) A new study has found a strong link between climate change and wildfire. It appears to explain long-term changes in the frequency of fire over many centuries, and it may explain what's been happening in the West in recent years.
The 20 scientists involved in the project concluded that there were fewer fires following the onset of a global cooling trend hundreds of years ago. Conversely, there were more fires after the trend reversed into a period of global warming.

Little hope for worsening drought in U.S. Plains
(Source: CNN) The area of the United States in extreme or exceptional drought grew by an area roughly the size of Alabama over the past week. Nearly half of the continental United States is now in severe or worse drought, and the worst-hit area is the Great Plains, according to the latest report from the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

This is just a sampling of the information in our Alert. Go here for the full text of this alert, and more information on Sustainability, and other Accountability related topics.