When we hear about abnormally hot weather, we think of heat waves. In Chicago in 1995, the heat index hit 120 for three days in a row, killing hundreds of elderly people. In France, thousands of people died during seven days of severe heat in 2003.
Those events are awful for their destructive force, but at least they make sense. Sometimes temperature spikes.
What we saw last year was entirely different. It wasn’t a heat wave. It was prolonged high temperature throughout the year for much of the country. In all, 33,753 local high temperature records were set.
This is not normal.
Last year saw one severe weather event after another. It was topped off by Superstorm Sandy, which caused damage that will cost us between $50 billion and $100 billion. Check out the list from Climate Central of 2012’s top weather and climate events.
Also note that for the past 333 months in a row the global average temperature has been above the 20th Century average. This means nobody under the age of 27 has ever experienced an average month.
We have already created a dramatically changed climate system. How far does it need to go before we get serious about solutions?