No Average Year, No Average Book: ‘Global Weirdness’
By Climate Central
When Climate Central put the finishing touches on our new book a year or so ago, there was always the chance that we’d wind up with egg on our faces. The book, entitled Global Weirdness: Severe Storms, Deadly Heat Waves, Relentless Drought, Rising Seas and the Weather of the Future (which officially hits the stores on July 24), is an effort to tell the story of climate science and climate change in a straightforward, low-key way, without apocalyptic proclamations. Just the facts, as the best scientists are able to lay them out.
But climate doesn’t just change because of human greenhouse-gas emissions (see Chapter 2: Dinosaurs Didn’t Drive Gas-Guzzlers or Use Air-Conditioning). It varies somewhat from year to year, even when the overall trend is upward (see Chapter 23: Nobody Ever Said Global Warming Means Every Year Will be Hotter than the Last).
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So there was every chance after the droughts, heat waves and other extreme events of 2011, that 2012 could have turned out to be a pretty average year for climate — not especially warm or stormy or fire-prone or any of the other versions of weirdness that scientists say rising global temperatures should produce. An uneventful climate year wouldn’t mean the climate scientists were wrong, but it could make it tougher to make the point.
As it turns out, the point isn’t going to be hard to make at all. It’s a little more than halfway through 2012, and we’ve seen all sorts of Global Weirdness. In the U.S. alone, we’ve seen record-shattering March heat, massive and aggressive wildfires in Colorado and other states, downpour-driven floods in Minnesota and Florida (the latter caused by Debby, the season’s fourth named tropical storm — an unusual number for so early in the year), and a second round of record-shattering heat that’s going on right now.
It’s pretty clear that while we have plenty of reason to fear the changes happening to the planet, there’s no reason to fear that we chose the wrong title for the book — or that the point of it will be lost on readers (see Chapter 38: Droughts, Torrential Rains, and Other Extreme Weather Are Happening More Often Than They Used to).