This is not a good time to be a climate change denier. After a record-breaking year of dangerous weather in 2012—following a destructive year in 2011—scientific reports are rolling out this month showing extreme weather in the U.S. is on the rise, threatening Americans today with bone-bleaching drought, fueling more devastating floods and violent storms, and posing threats of even greater weather disasters in the future. Climate change is suddenly all around us.
Last week the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration released a report ranking 2012 as the hottest year ever recorded in the lower 48 states—and one of the most volatile in terms of extreme weather events. Then this week came the draft of the National Climate Assessment, a four-year comprehensive study involving hundreds of scientists and experts, that listed a myriad of menacing climate threats Americans are facing now and in the near future. The draft report unequivocally blamed human activities—mainly the burning of fossil fuels—for driving climate change’s rising environmental, health and economic toll in the U.S.
On top of all these reports, a newly-released interactive NRDC map shows that 2012 extreme weather events broke 3,527 monthly records for heat, rain and snow across the U.S. in one of the costliest natural disaster years ever recorded. Insurance giant MunichRe estimates that an astounding 90 percent of the world’s insured losses occurred in the U.S. last year, much of it due to the devastating drought across much of the country’s midsection and to Superstorm Sandy, the epic northeastern hurricane that struck in November.