Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Off-the-charts temperatures

Australia's Bureau of Meteorology

We talked yesterday about 2012 being the warmest on record in the United States, and if you thought that was alarming, consider conditions in Australia (thanks to Cory Gnazzo for the heads-up).

As a record-breaking heatwave hovers over many regions and territories (which are in their summer months now), the continent's Bureau of Meteorology has added two new colors to the weather map to reflect the rising mercury.

The map currently shows the weather in orange tones at the top, which indicate temperatures 40 to 48 degrees Celsius. But forecasts are predicting off-the-charts weather. As a result, pink and purple will now cover temperatures over 50 degrees Celsius -- should it climb that high.

For those rusty on the temperature conversion, that is a sweat-inducing 122 degrees Fahrenheit.

David Jones, head of the bureau's climate monitoring and prediction unit, said the projected forecasts show temperatures "in excess of" 122 Fahrenheit.

MSNBC's Chris Hayes noted on Twitter earlier that he's noticed "a marked shift in climate denialist rhetoric" lately. Climate deniers have gone from saying, "It's not getting warmer!" to saying, "Of course it's getting warmer, we don't know the cause."

At this point, I'm almost inclined to consider this a breakthrough.

Kevin Drum had a piece a year ago that always stuck in my head.

Originally, climate denial went through three stages:

1. The world isn't warming.

2. OK, it's warming, but it's not man-made. It's just natural climate variability.

3. Fine, people are responsible. But it's not economically worth it to do anything about it.

But as the right grew more radical, and conservatives' discomfort with reality became more intense, we saw deniers regress quickly. Indeed, they not only started over, they went even further back, insisting that climate science itself is a communistic conspiracy which must be rejected in its entirety.

If the right is open to the reality of a warming planet, perhaps that's a step in the right direction?

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