Journalism in the Public Interest

Heat Wave: The Best Reporting on Our Rising Temperatures

A roundup of accountability journalism on the local effects of rising temperatures around the country and the world.

A New York City heat wave. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

July was the hottest month ever in the continental U.S., and the past twelve months have been hotter than any such period on record. Half of all counties in the country have been declared disaster areas, mainly due to drought. We’ve rounded up some of the best journalism on the effects of rising temperatures. Got others you’re burning to share? Add them in the comments.

Profits on Carbon Credits Drive Output of a Harmful Gas, New York Times, August 2012
Under a U.N. carbon credit program, manufacturers can get credits for reducing emission of greenhouse gases. But air-conditioner and refrigerator manufacturers realized they could profit from a waste gas produced while making coolant, and they started making and destroying more of it to earn credits. The result: more production of the original coolant, which also contributes to global warming and damages the ozone layer.

In Drought-Stricken Midwest, It's Fodder Vs. Fuel, NPR, July 2012
A U.S. law requires gas companies to buy a certain amount of ethanol, which is made from corn. That means ethanol factories are buying up the crop. Farmers who need corn for livestock, and who are already struggling with drought, say the system isn't fair.

Wildfire: Red slurry's toxic dark side,Denver Post, June 2012
Hundreds of thousands of gallons of "red slurry" were dropped on wildfires raging in Colorado. The chemical mixture is effective at firefighting, but it’s also full of toxins, including ammonia and nitrates, which threaten the water supply and wildlife. For more background on the Colorado fires, read I-News Network’s account on how more people are moving into the state’s high-risk “red zones”, even as the frequency of fires has increased over the past decade.

Oysters in deep trouble: Is Pacific Ocean’s chemistry killing sea life?, The Seattle Times, April 2012
Since 2005, millions of Pacific oysters in a Washington estuary have failed to reproduce and the oyster larvae have been dying. Though region-specific causes contributed to the decline, some scientists believe that greenhouse gases are leading to increased corrosive seawater sooner than expected.

The Great Oasis, The New Yorker, December 2011
About a third of the earth is covered in desert, a percentage that increases each year thanks in part to climate change and unsustainable farming. The New Yorker’s Burkhard Bilger examines the science and politics involved in various countries’ efforts to stop desertification, from China and Israel to Oman and Nigeria.

Our Dying Forests, The Salt Lake Tribune, September 2011
This multi-part series centers on the decline of the once-lush forestation in the Rocky Mountain West, where warmer winters and longer growing seasons have sparked an explosion of native beetle species that have destroyed 40 million acres of moisture-starved spruce, firs and aspen.

Extreme Heat Blanches Coral, and Threat is Seen, The New York Times, September 2010
In 2010 many of the world’s coral reefs turned white in reaction to too-warm waters. Coral bleaching and die-offs often occur in years when El Niño or other unusual weather patterns contribute to hot ocean temperatures, but scientists say that global warming is also playing a factor in what they call “global bleachings.”

Losing Louisiana, The Times-Picayune, December 2008
Rising sea levels pose a particular problem for Louisiana’s fragile coastline, where the land is sinking and protective wetlands have been ravaged by development and hurricanes. North Carolina’s shore is also seeing the impact of rising seas, as the Charlotte Observer covered in a recent series on coastal erosion.

George Stanley

Aug. 10, 2012, 2:34 p.m.

One of the best series I’ve seen on this topic was the Boston Globe’s “The 45th Parallel: Warming Where We Live,”

It came out 5 years ago so probably was too old to make this roundup but it is outstanding.

charles lauffer

Aug. 10, 2012, 2:42 p.m.

“The sky is crashing. “
warmest in history of earth is not accurate..
If things have been hotter and the earth cooled off on its own,
this too may be part of the earth cycle.

(Apologies if this goes through twice.  If someone on the ProPublica side sees it again and can delete this copy, it’d be appreciated.)

Since it’s the topic, there’s a couple of reasons I don’t buy the Artificial Global Warming theory.  I’m not trying to change anybody’s mind, here, but I can’t let something like this slip by without at least posting my own dissent.

1.  The committee reports that summarize the climate data consistently show that we do NOT understand the effect of carbon dioxide well, even while asserting it’s the strongest cause of warming, and also assumes that all effects must be runaway exponential growth.

2.  There have been many calls to silence any scientist who disagrees with the “consensus.”  Truth doesn’t need do suppress falsehood, but falsehood often seeks to suppress the truth.

3.  The concept is too reminiscent of the old-world religions, where our sins have angered the gods and only by giving up our lives (or our livelihoods) to enrich the leaders can we redeem ourselves.

4.  The carbon credit exchange was architected by Ken Lay of Enron fame, which sounds as safe as Jeffrey Dahmer opening a restaurant.

5.  While our government asks us to cut back here, there, and everywhere, they still tool around in motorcades and fly hundreds people around the country every week.  Nobody has shifted the Capitol building to solar power, for example.

6.  If literally anybody with power were serious about carbon dioxide, there is a cutting-edge technology that can be deployed in nearly any empty space to solve it.  It not only absorbs carbon dioxide, but also blocks sunlight from the local area.  If that weren’t enough, it can also produce breatheable oxygen and even food.  To top it off, this technology requires little maintenance and even performs better as heat and carbon dioxide increase.  However, no government or corporate plan to stop global warming has involved loading up empty lots with…plants.  I’ve heard many people propose inducing a nuclear winter, which could kill billions of people.  I’ve never heard anybody propose planting a damned tree.

I won’t even get into the evidence that Venus, Mars, and Jupiter are also warming, or ClimateGate, or…

It’s a shame, too.  I think clean power, better transportation, reduced consumption, and an improved environment for us to live in would be a great thing, and I support it where I can.  But couched in politics and apocalypic religion, there’ll be far more damage to people in the name of averting Global Warming than there would be even in actively warming the planet.

One more thing to consider, though:  Every time we have a mild summer or a cold winter, we’re told by the Global Warming folks that “weather isn’t climate.”  A hot summer, though?  Oh, that’s climate.

Well with new Trillion dollar rover on Mars, we will all get a good look at the future of EARTH!

The photo you have used is, strangely, not from this year.. Or even last year, the photographer died in April 2011 in Libya.

There is No such thing thing as Climate Change! If you do not believe me, just ask the Oil and Natural gas industries!!!

There is no cure for human fear of the unknown.

You have missed to most important articles of the year. It is that geoengineering is causing the sun to be brighter and the hotter. It makes the sky look lighter blue and the sun look larger by diffusing it. This is caused by sulfates dumped in or atmosphere. Most people have noticed the sun is so hot on their skin they seek shade.

I agree with John that the sun feels hotter. There is a legitimate reason for it.  The sun is being magnified by the chemicals being sprayed into the atmosphere (chemtrails) and if there truly is a warming of the globe we can thank H.A.A.R.P. and chemtrails.
If you’re not familiar with those two terms,  a quick Google search will educate you real quick.

Nobody has ever offered a more succinct indictment of the global warming hoax than H. L. Mencken, who said: “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

Thousands of years ago, a primitive witch doctor told the members of his tribe that the drought (or the floods, or the storms) they were suffering from were a sign that their gods were unhappy with their sinful ways, and that their only hope of surviving was to do exactly as he said. Nothing much has changed since then. Climate alarmism is still a tool that dishonest men use in an effort to gain power over others, or to enrich themselves at their expense.

There is no global warming crisis… It’s a complete lie!


“Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get” Lazarus Long

Spot on Chuck!!

Daphne, I’m not saying that the climate isn’t changing.  It changes all the time, as evidenced by last year’s announcement (contradicted this summer) that we were in a cooling trend.  It’s also been warming in the ‘60s and ‘20s, and cooling in the ‘40s and ‘70s.

I dispute that (a) there’s a real correlation between our civilization’s footprint and the degree of warming, (b) the warming we see has destroyed equilibrium, and (c) the people pushing for “solutions” are any more interested in our future than the oil companies are.

As I said, if carbon dioxide is the culprit, we can solve the problem by growing plants and algae everywhere we can.  There is no “point of no return,” except death, because plants scale with heat and carbon dioxide.

Instead, the alleged solution is to raise taxes and put that money toward…uhm…y’know…stuff, bigger banks, maybe.  Or, if it’s an emergency, we’ll blanket the Earth in reflective dust so that we can starve to death and go broke trying to heat our homes.

When saving humanity involves sacrificing humans, I call BS, and this is the same Malthusian BS that’s been around for at least a hundred years, trying to convince the poor that they’re a blight on the planet.

When Congress puts solar panels on the roof and starts telecommuting, or when the National Guard starts planting trees, I’ll believe there’s a crisis.  Until then, it’s either a scam or it’s out of our control.

John, you make some good points.
Our alarmist friends should rest assured that “oil companies” have no wish to destroy their customer base and live a lonely existence on planet Earth.

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