Call It What You Will, We’re All Sweating

Where are all the talk show hosts, conservative pundits, and global warming naysayers who were crowing incessantly this past winter when it was snowing like no tomorrow? Back in February, as we shoveled out from underneath one snowstorm after another, we heard all about how climate change was a left-wing lie. Ron Smith, the WBAL talk show host, poked fun at the ongoing weather crisis every day for months — ignoring the fact that when all was said and done, the winter of 2010 was one of the warmest on record.

Now that Snowpocalypse is but a fleeting memory, we need AC — if the power doesn’t go out — to consider the latest weather hit parade from the Department of Commerce’s National Climatic Data Center:

• The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for June 2010 was the warmest on record at 61.1 degrees F, which is 1.22 degrees above the 20th century average of 59.9. June 2010 was the fourth consecutive warmest month on record (March, April and May 2010 were also the warmest on record). This was the 304th consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The last month with below-average temperature was February 1985. The June worldwide averaged land surface temperature was 1.93 degrees F above the 20th century average of 55.9 — the warmest on record.

• It was the warmest April–June (three-month period) on record for the global land and ocean temperature and the land-only temperature. The three-month period was the second warmest for the world’s oceans, behind 1998.

• It was the warmest June and April–June on record for the Northern Hemisphere as a whole and all land areas of the Northern Hemisphere.

• It was the warmest January–June on record for the global land and ocean temperature. The worldwide land on average had its second warmest January–June, behind 2007. The worldwide averaged ocean temperature was the second warmest January–June, behind 1998.

Those are a lot of numbers, but the trends and the truth are undeniable, folks. It’s getting warmer every month and every year. This summer is certainly no exception.

Europe is going insane. The heat bubbling up from Africa is baking brains as Europe experiences the same 90-degree, day-upon-day sauna show that settled in over the Chesapeake.

Over there, things are starting to unravel. It’s driving people insane. It’s driving them to drink and, in hopes of cooling off, into the water.

Vadim Seryogin, a department head at Russia’s Emergencies Ministry, told reporters on July 14 that 49 people, including two children, had drowned the past day. More than 1,200 total have drowned, 223 between July 5 and July 12.

The major highway from Poland to Germany melted, along with numerous airport runways. People across Europe have been stranded in sweltering trains broken down in the extreme heat. Grains and other food crops are withering away after weeks without rain. Fires have burned thousands of acres. The elderly and the sick are huddling in churches converted into cooling shelters. There have been riots in Finland after stores ran out of fans. A state of emergency has been declared in many parts of Europe.

Meanwhile, back here in the Land of Pleasant Living, 10 people have dropped dead from the heat this summer, and a wide range of other problems have arisen, including the MARC trains having trouble staying on the rails, Code Red days with dangerously high ozone readings, plummeting oxygen levels in the Bay and the Dead Zone dramatically expanding. Tempers are rising with the temperature. The grass and trees are fading fast. Water levels are getting dangerously low. BGE keeps warning that the power grid is maxed-out.

Now, after the hottest June ever, I’m tempted to play the conservative’s game and poke fun at George Will, Rush Limbaugh and Bay Weekly’s climate change critics who took exception this past winter when I said we were facing a climate crisis.

But I’m going to take the high road.

The rising temperature of the planet earth manifests itself in many ways, but a rise in temperature of one degree is below most of our levels of awareness. Perhaps that’s why we continue to pretend it doesn’t exist.

Rising temperature makes its presence known through strange and extreme weather, like August in June, multiple blizzards, more hurricanes, droughts when there should be rain, rains when it should be dry, tornados in Wisconsin and ice caps melting at an alarming rate.

We notice signs like that. So let’s pull our heads out of the proverbial sand before it’s too late.