Inheriting the Whirlwind of Extreme Events

This article looks at the huge upswing in extreme events around the world. Imagine this: the worst-ever tornado season, the worst flooding, and worst heatwave¬† have hit the US this year. And they may yet experience one the worst hurricane seasons. “24 Hours of Reality” online broadcast documented this Sept 15 to help people clear their heads of the fossil fuel propaganda and open their eyes to the crisis we are facing.¬† — Stephen

There are four anti-climate change lobbyists in Washington for every member of Congress.”

By Stephen Leahy

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Sep 15, 2011 (IPS)

The dramatic increase in extreme weather that has affected hundreds of millions across the planet is one of the clearest signs that burning billions of tonnes fossil fuels has seriously and permanently disrupted the global climate, experts say.

That is the reality former U.S. vice president Al Gore is focusing on Thursday through an unprecedented live online event called “24 Hours of Reality” broadcast from 24 time zones and reaching millions of viewers in multiple languages.

“In 30 years of weather forecasting I have never seen extreme weather events like those in the last two years globally,” said Jeff Masters, co-founder and Director of Meteorology for Weather Underground, the web’s first commercial weather service.

“I never thought we could have the greatest outbreak of tornados, the worst-ever flooding, record heatwaves and droughts all in one year,” Masters told IPS at a press conference last week in reference to the multi-billion-dollar extreme weather the U.S. has endured this year.

“The hurricane season is only half over and is on pace to be a record year as well,” he said.

Masters and other climate experts say is the “new normal” for the coming decades is the reason why. Burning of oil, gas, coal puts billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, where it traps more of the sun’s heat in what is known as the greenhouse effect.

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That additional heat warms the oceans and air and allows more moisture to be retained in the atmosphere, scientists have long since proven. The enormous amounts of additional heat and moisture now trapped in the atmosphere are the potent fuel for extreme events.

“More than 1,400 high temperature records were broken in July in the eastern U.S.,” said Jerry Meehl, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Continue reading