Thursday, August 9, 2012

Olympic News Now! Heat and Drought Records Fall! USA! USA!

As the USA and China battle at the moment in their London 2012 Olympic quest for gold medal supremacy, Team USA is already tops at bringing home the medals by the bushel-full on the the heat and drought front, and breaking records right and left in the process! The competition is quite literally melting away.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced earlier this month that the lower 48 U.S. states had outdistanced the other competitors in the monthly heat sprint by crossing the July finish line at a record 77.6°F pace! That's a wilting 3.3°F above the Twentieth Century average and marked not only the hottest July on record but was the hottest month - period - ever recorded for the nation! The USA is not the only country in the medal mix, however, with Russian heat and Brazilian rain also straining the global food chain and pushing up food prices worldwide at rates unseen since 2009.

But wait. Those are not the only winning marks to be had in July, as the month's U.S.-averaged precipitation total of 2.57 inches was a full 0.19 inch below average, contributing to near-record dry conditions in the nation's mid-section, with the drought footprint expanding to cover nearly 63 percent of the lower 48 states, according the U.S. Drought Monitor. Surely, an Olympian feat to be proud of. Unwilling to stop there, the

Drought Team USA euphoria spread to other USA team members, as the hot and dry conditions made for ideal wildfire conditions. More than 2 million acres burned in wildfires nationwide during July, an acreage mark nearly half a million acres above average, the fourth highest to burn since 2000, and more than enough to bring home the gold for this Olympiad!

And the crowds have gone wild as these golden moments materialized before their very eyes! Advocates for climate change policy cited this recent extreme weather as a "teachable moment." Anthony Leiserowitz, director of Yale University's Project on Climate Change Communication, for example, argued that "People aren't just simply puppets being pulled one way or the other depending on what's going on with the weather. They learned from what's going on. They remember what's going on." On the opposite side of the climate stadium, indicating that not quite everyone remembers and learns, and that some people may simply be puppets after all, onlookers who have denied the link between these record-setting events and climate change continued their denial. A denial proving, perhaps, that this Olympic moment may not be so "teachable" after all, and that other records are sure to fall in future months and years.  "USA! USA!"

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