Thursday, July 29, 2010

It's getting hot, hot, hot

The data from NOAA are no surprise to me: the last decade was the hottest yet (h/t naked capitalism). This should be no surprise to anyone who recalls that 2009 was the 13th straight year of above average temperatures, and preliminary data from earlier this year pointed to the last decade as the warmest on record.  I know the climate change skeptics love to point to all the snow that folks in the northeast saw this past winter as "proof" that we're not experiencing global warming, and who will be busy parsing the data for something - anything - that might bolster their weak case. So it goes.

Of course we're going to have cold spells. Day-to-day, season-to-season, and year-to-year fluctuations are par for the course. It's just that we'll see fewer of those cold spells. Intense winters of the sort that were experienced in the eastern US and into the plains were the norm a few decades back, but are noteworthy now because they simply don't happen that often. By the way, the rest of the northern hemisphere baked (relatively speaking) while the northeast and mid-Atlantic regions of the US were digging out from record snowfalls. And the global temperatures continue to trend higher while we twiddle our thumbs.

In the meantime, it would be a good idea to remind ourselves of what sorts of societies will fare best as the climate changes rather rapidly over the next few decades. Suffice it to say, the egalitarians are going to have the edge. We might also want to think more carefully about the potential economic and geopolitical consequences of global warming.

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