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Heat, Drought Threat Linked to Global Warming

[Update: 7/3/10 – looks like the Asbury Park Press doesn’t get it: Water restrictions issued for Monmouth County]

I do a lot of criticism here, so today, instead of lambasting Senator John Kerry for his spineless capitulation yesterday in announcing plans to compromise his already compromised global warming and energy bill, let me instead praise State Climatologist David Robinson and Daily Record reporter Elizabeth Sauchelli.

Kerry’s fold, enabled by Obama’s failed leadership, couldn’t have come at a worse time, when the Gulf disaster has prompted even more Americans to demand a transition away from fossil fuels to clean renewable energy, but that’s the subject of another post. Let’s get back to the praise.

I have repeatedly complained about the failure of weathermen and the media to educate the public by linking weather events to global warming climate change, most recently in this April 6 post: Adapt or Die, where I wrote about the scientific study Trends in Extreme Precipitation Events for the Northeastern United States 1948-2007” and rue the failures of  “the same tired meteorologists quoted in the NJ news stories and “challenge NJ’s media and policy makers to engage a more thorough analysis and response”.

But the Morris Daily record ran a story on Tuesday, that got it exactly rightMorris County NJ sizzles in record-setting heat; drought a concern:

This June is expected to be one of the hottest New Jersey has seen since 1895, State Climatologist David Robinson said Monday. He predicts that temperatures this June have been hotter than 60 percent of all the Julys in the state’s history” and that heat, coupled with a lack of rain, could lead to drought concerns later this summer.

“In the short term, we can explain this by the atmospheric patterns across eastern North America this spring and early summer, but this is a pattern we’re seeing more frequently over the past few years,” said Robinson, based at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. “This causes suspicion that we might be able to attribute this to a larger scale.”

More simply put: Robinson believes 2010’s unusually warm weather could be attributed to global warming.

‘When we look at all the seasons the last couple of decades, the one that is getting warmer faster is spring,’ Robinson said. ‘This is in line with what models suggest to be a signal for human-induced climate change. It’s too soon to know for sure that there’s a direct cause or link.’

Thank you Professor Robinson and journalist Sauchelli (and Daily Record editors).

Let this storyline become the narrative and a model for linking regional trends and local extreme weather events (storms, floods, droughts, early spring, etc) to patterns predicted by global warming models.

Make the story local and show how it affects reals people’s lives, but don’t fail to make the link to the science.

That is the way to educate the american people, and there’s no reason it couldn’t be done on a regular news basis (even if 20 years too late).

Who knows, coverage might even expand to the much larger set of known and visible effects of global warming – things that people care about that have human interest  storylines and news potential. All it takes is a functional and creative media.

Global warming is not only real – it’s already here.

(note to readers: hit the links – I’m leading you to a lot of water in them,  but I can’t make you drink).

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