Cross-posted from the Wonk Room.
After a year of climate devastation in 2010, this year has begun with more extreme weather across the globe. In the southern hemisphere and along the equator, it is a summer of floods and storms — in Australia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Tonga, Brazil, Colombia, South Africa, as well as Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Madagascar.
The northern hemisphere’s winter is similarly extreme, with normal patterns of air flow destabilized by a warmed Arctic Ocean. Extreme heat shattered records in California and Canada, while Arctic air and warm oceans combined to produce storm after storm of intense snow throughout Europe and the United States. The Arctic air flooding south brought chaos to the Southwest, leaving Arizonans without gas or electricity and causing rolling blackouts in Texas. Other areas of the world, including Argentina, Chile, and China, are suffering from crippling droughts.
The world has suffered billions of dollars of damage to infrastructure, homes, and crops, with transportation networks and national economies depressed by the extreme weather. Thousands of people have died, and millions more cast into suffering, little more than a month into the year. Global commodity prices have skyrocketed as production of wheat, sugar, rice, corn, and coal have been struck by climate disasters, feeding unrest across the Middle East and elsewhere.
The monster Groundhog Day blizzard stretching from New Mexico to Maine “paralyzed the nation’s heartland with ice and snow, shuttering airports and schools and leaving normally bustling downtowns deserted.” Satellite imagery shows the continent-wide storm’s massive extent:
In response, conservative pundits have little to offer but puerile attacks on Al Gore, with jokes about eating Twinkies, snipes about bank accounts, and flat-out denial of global warming. It’s a “snow-job,” carped conservative meteorologist Dr. Ryan Maue, without challenging the fact that global warming pollution is influencing the climate and encouraging extreme weather. Dr. Roy Spencer strangely made the baseless claim that “the annual amount of precipitation that falls on the Earth stays remarkably constant from year to year,” despite significant annual anomalies. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) went so far to attack Gore’s “personal life.”