So far this year, more than 2.1 million acres have burned in wildfires, more than 113 million people in the U.S. were in areas under extreme heat advisories last Friday, two-thirds of the country is experiencing drought, and earlier in June, deluges flooded Minnesota and Florida.
"This is what global warming looks like at the regional or personal level," said Jonathan Overpeck, professor of geosciences and atmospheric sciences at the University of Arizona. "The extra heat increases the odds of worse heat waves, droughts, storms and wildfire. This is certainly what I and many other climate scientists have been warning about."
Kevin Trenberth, head of climate analysis at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in fire-charred Colorado, said these are the very record-breaking conditions he has said would happen, but many people wouldn't listen. So it's I told-you-so time, he said.
As recently as March, a special report an extreme events and disasters by the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned of "unprecedented extreme weather and climate events." Its lead author, Chris Field of the Carnegie Institution and Stanford University, said Monday, "It's really dramatic how many of the patterns that we've talked about as the expression of the extremes are hitting the U.S. right now."
"What we're seeing really is a window into what global warming really looks like," said Princeton University geosciences and international affairs professor Michael Oppenheimer. "It looks like heat. It looks like fires. It looks like this kind of environmental disasters."
And the bottom line is after nearly 25 years of warnings that we've ignored, we now face the very real prospect that it's now too late to save coastal cities from rising oceans. The window is all but closed, folks...and we've lost. Now it's time to pay the piper.
"Even with aggressive mitigation measures that limit global warming to less than 2ºC above pre-industrial values by 2100, and with decreases of global temperature in the 22nd and 23rd centuries ... sea level continues to rise after 2100," they said in the journal Nature Climate Change on Sunday.
This is because as warmer temperatures penetrate deep into the sea, the water warms and expands as the heat mixes through different ocean regions.
Even if global average temperatures fall and the surface layer of the sea cools, heat would still be mixed down into the deeper layers of the ocean, causing continued rises in sea levels.
If global average temperatures continue to rise, the melting of ice sheets and glaciers would only add to the problem.
Now the choice is between limiting the damage to the coasts and full-blown catastrophe. That's the political battle we'll be fighting for the next generation. That and who will suffer the most due to climate change.
Get used to triple digits, mega-cell storms like the derechos that flattened DC and West Chicago and deadly wildfires in June, folks. It's here to stay.