Heavy Weather: How Climate Destruction Harms Middle - Center for ...

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Heavy Weather: How Climate Destruction Harms Middle - Center for ...

Extreme weather is the new normalThe disasters of 2011 and 2012 serve as a tragic—and expensive—foreshadowingof future weather disasters in what has become the new climate “normal.” 127The American Meteorological Society 2011 “State of the Climate” report wascompiled by nearly 400 scientists in 48 countries. 128 This annual report was alsoaccompanied by the first-ever separate analysis, “Explaining Extreme Events of2011 from a Climate Perspective.” This document explains how climate changeinfluences key weather events, including major droughts in the United States.The analysis examines six global weather crises in 2011, with the Texas droughtthat lasted half the year representing the only U.S. event. 129 Peter Stott, climatemonitoring and attribution team leader at the United Kingdom’s National WeatherService, said in reference to the Texas drought, “Such a heat wave is now around20 times more likely during a La Niña year than it was during the 1960s. … wehave shown that climate change has indeed altered the odds of some of the eventsthat have occurred.” 130Additionally, atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide pollution and othergreenhouse gases are already having a devastating effect on our nation and planet.According to standards set by the World Meteorological Organization, climate“normals” are the temperature averages of a 30-year span. 131 Rather than changingannually, these averages shift each decade to reflect the country’s new “typical”climate. The climate normal for the previous decade released by the NationalOceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 2011 show that 2001–2010 was thewarmest decade on record. 132A seemingly incremental shift in tri-decadal climate normal weather patterns,however, can have disastrous implications for the weather. Warmer air holds moremoisture, so as atmospheric temperatures rise, there is more water available to fuelstorms, increasing the intensity and frequency of precipitation events. Frequentsoaking leaves the soil unable to absorb more moisture, resulting in heavier runoff21 Center for American Progress | Heavy Weather: How Climate Destruction Harms Middle- and Lower-Income Americans

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