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Is the Current Weather Just a Warm-Up?

And are we seeing the early effects of climate change?

“Even those who deny the existence of global climate change are having trouble dismissing the evidence of the last year,” writes Sharon Begley in the latest Newsweek, whose cover story is “Weather Panic: This is the new normal.”

It’s a valuable article, giving some useful insight into what’s happening and what we can expect in the coming years.

Begley starts by noting that we don’t know whether the current wave of tornadoes is driven by a warmer climate. But there’s a great deal else that we do know for sure – and that we’re doing nothing about. All in all, we’re woefully unprepared for what’s coming down the pike.

Some of what we’ve already seen includes:

The wettest April in the Midwest in 116 years

The driest month in Texas in a century

A thousand tornadoes in the U.S. in the last year, leaving more than 500 people dead and more than $15 billion in damage

Record heat in Russia last summer that killed 15,000 people

Record floods in Pakistan and Australia

Drought in China

And the hottest year on Earth since weather records began

Some of what’s on the way:

California so hot that much of today’s agriculture will be impossible

Many coastal cities flooded by rising sea levels

More intense hurricanes, heat waves, droughts and deluges

More tropical diseases reaching into once temperate zones

Chicago feeling more like Baton Rouge

Begley notes that while the U.S. dithers, other countries are taking action. The Dutch, who are used to floods, have a detailed 200-year plan.

“Time is getting short,” she writes. “Says Daniel Sarewitz, a professor of science and society at Arizona State University: ‘Not to adapt is to consign millions of people to death and disruption.’”

Read the whole article in Newsweek at The Daily Beast.

What do you say? Is the current weather or your knowledge of climate change playing a part in any of the decisions you’re making? Let us know in a comment below or on Facebook.

What you can do: The article in Newsweek is a good intro. Also recommended are Hot: Living through the next fifty years on Earth by Mark Hertsgaard, and Eaarth: Making a life on a tough new planetby Bill McKibben.

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