Peter Gleick: It’s Hotter Than It Used to Be; It’s Not as Hot as It’s Going to Be

Holy crap it’s hot. People, animals, and crops are dying.

But not only is it hot, it’s hotter than it used to be. And it’s our fault. Welcome to the future of climate change.

Peter Gleick
Dr. Peter Gleick is president of the Pacific Institute, an internationally recognized water expert and a MacArthur Fellow.

Let’s keep this simple: we know the Earth is warming up — the data are unambiguous.* We know that humans are largely responsible — the scientific community has been clear. And we know that the massive efforts to deny these two facts have confused policy makers, the public, and the media and have seriously delayed taking any sort of effective policy action to slow climate changes.

What this delay means, however, is rarely discussed, but in the most straightforward terms:
It’s going to get even hotter. A lot hotter.

Global warming is causing or worsening some of the extreme weather we’re seeing. This influence of climate change on some extremes, including especially heat waves and heavy precipitation and some kinds of storm and flood events must no longer be waved away, swept under the rug, or otherwise ignored. It must become part of our daily discussion and debate. Until then, our politicians, in their air-conditioned chambers, under pressure from lobbyists and others who fear the policies that must inevitably be put in place to reduce our atmospheric pollution, will continue to look the other way.

You know the old conversation starter? “Is it hot enough for you?”

Well, just wait.
* “The indicators show unequivocally that the world continues to warm,” said Dr. Thomas R. Karl, director of the National Climatic Data Center. “There is a clear and unmistakable signal from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans,” said Dr. Peter Thorne of the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites, North Carolina State University.

Peter Gleick

Originally published by the Huffington Post on July 21, 2011.

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