A firefighter battles a fire in New South Wales, 9 January 2013. PA

10 January 2013 (The Kansas City Star) – The overwhelming number of scientists who believe in climate change scored another “victory” in 2012.

Unfortunately, because of timid political leadership in the United States and around the world, the war against global warming is still being lost.

Scientists have long warned that man-made greenhouse gases are heating up the Earth. They added more evidence to their arsenal when the contiguous United States recorded its hottest year ever in 2012. The average temperature was 55.3 decrees, smashing the 1998 record by one full degree, an incredible leap given the usually small changes in these kinds of measurements.

The New York Times reported other worrisome facts: 34,008 daily high records were established at U.S. weather stations but only 6,664 record lows in 2012.

Worldwide, the average temperature is expected to come in as one of the 10 warmest ever, with all of those occurring in the last 15 years.

But it wasn’t just the searing heat, especially in March and July, that showed climate change is on a destructive march in America. The country endured a severe drought — especially in the Midwest — and it recorded the second largest number of mega-weather events in history, such as Hurricane Sandy, which pummeled the East Coast late in the year.

More bad news: Warnings abound that the nation’s temperatures could rise even more, leading to added weather-related problems.

The 2012 extremes cost billions of dollars in lost crops and federal disaster aid to Sandy victims. Corn and soybean prices spiked, costing consumers more at the supermarket. Private homeowners have endured billions of dollars in other losses caused by the large numbers of storms and tornados in 2012.

That’s a germane fact because one of the pitiful excuses brought up by members of Congress has been that any governmental actions aimed at reducing climate change could cost Americans billions of dollars. [more]

The Star’s editorial | The costly ignorance of climate change

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