After record-breaking heat, destructive wildfires, droughts and storms punished communities across the United States this year, two House Democrats are asking Congress to recognize the steep cost of climate change's steroidal effect on extreme weather. Reps. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) today released a report that details the scientific links between climate change and extreme weather and called on their Congressional colleagues to commit to action to reduce the carbon pollution that is driving more intense and frequent extreme weather events.
"Crop-baking droughts, home-burning fires and apocalyptic storms will define 2012 as the year we finally saw what global warming really looks like," said Rep. Markey, the Ranking Member of the Natural Resources Committee. "While the Republican-led House of Representatives refuses to take climate action, carbon pollution is mixing a deadly cocktail of heat and extreme weather that is costing lives and billions of dollars in damages. House Republicans left town without passing a farm bill while farmers continue to suffer, but they had time to pass yet another giveaway to fossil fuel polluters."
"The evidence is overwhelming - climate change is occurring and it is occurring now," said Rep. Waxman, the Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee. "In the last few months, the nation has been ravaged by record-breaking heat waves, drought, and wildfires. But the Republican response is to deny the science and block action. We don't have any more time to waste."
The report looks at the impacts of 2012's record breaking heat on agriculture, wildfires, storms, and water levels. The report finds the links between extreme weather and climate to be "abundant, robust and well documented in peer-reviewed scientific studies."
Additional highlights from the report include:
Wildfires: This season, wildfires burned more than 8.6 million acres, an area the size of New Jersey and Connecticut combined.
Drought: This summer, over half the counties in the United States have been designated disaster zones. The 2012 drought is on par with the worst months from the multi-year droughts of the Dust Bowl era.
Record Temperature: August 2012 was the 330th consecutive month with global temperatures above the 20th century average. There has not been a single month cooler than the 20th century global average since February 1985.
Sea Ice Melt: Arctic sea ice coverage shrank to a record low 1.32 million square miles, 18 percent below the previous record set in 2007.
Damages: Natural disasters in 2011 resulted in the most costly toll in history -- $154 billion worth of worldwide losses from floods, tornados, hurricanes, wildfires and other extreme weather events.
The report was prepared by the Democratic staff of the Natural Resources and Energy and Commerce Committees.