Scientists and the readers who follow them know that the earth is warming very fast, even faster than anticipated. Ten of the last 15 years were the hottest ever in the U.S., and 2012 was the hottest of all. The worst drought since the Dust Bowl of the 1930s parched 64 percent of the lower 48 states, killed livestock and wiped out crops, resulting in a multi-billion dollar loss to American agriculture. Wildfires fueled by the heat and the drought laid waste to vast expanses, the largest on record.
The yearly global temperature in 2012 makes it the 36th consecutive year (since 1976) that the yearly global temperature was above the 20th-century average. Every year in the 21st century has been among the warmest in the 133-year record.
The rising temperatures on land and sea contributed to changes in weather patterns and extreme events in both hemispheres. (See the map above here.) China is in the grip of its coldest winter in 30 years; more than 650 people died in the frigid cold that froze most of Eurasia; floods inundated Pakistan, the U.K. and the Middle East; the strongest typhoon ever in the Philippines killed more than 900 people; severe snowstorms battered Sicily and southern Italy; Brazil is sweltering in record heat; snowstorms crippled the Middle East — and this is only a partial list of disasters attributable to global warming.