Seem hot to you? | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Seem hot to you?

Posted By on Wed, Oct 15, 2008 at 1:46 PM

An environmental group notes that 2007 was the second hottest on record globally and the local experience in Little Rock and Fort Smith mirrors the warming trend with average temps up 2.3 and 1.7 degrees, respectively. (That's a lot, in relative terms.) If you don't care about the environment much, note that the byproducts of a warmer climate include more biting bugs during deer season and fewer ducks to shoot during the winter. If the convenience of hunters isn't enough to get us to act, we are doomed.

What can we do? Do more with wind and solar energy. Build at least one fewer coal-fired generating plant. Urge Arkansas congressmen to get on board legislation to address the problem.

NEWS RELEASE

As the presidential candidates prepare to discuss some of the most important issues facing our country at their final debate tonight, Environment America released a new national report documenting that the average recorded temperatures in places such as Ft. Smith and Little Rock in 2007 was 1.7 and 2.3 °F above the historical average.  The year 2007 tied for the second warmest year on record globally and was the 10th warmest year on record in the United States.  These record temperatures are part of a trend toward rising temperatures resulting from global warming.

“Throw out the record books because global warming is raising temperatures in Arkansas and across the country,” said Audubon Arkansas Ken Smith.  “While one or two degrees may not seem like much, just as any parent with a sick child knows, even a small rise in temperature can have a big effect,” he continued.

According to NASA, seven of the eight warmest years on record globally have occurred since 2001.  These above-average temperatures led Environment America to more closely examine recent temperature trends at the local level. 

“Feeling the Heat: Global Warming and Rising Temperatures in the United States” compares government temperature data for the years 2000-2007 with the historical average, or “normal,” temperature for the preceding 30 years, 1971-2000.  Data were collected at 255 weather stations – those with the highest quality data – in all 50 states and Washington, DC. 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – the prestigious United Nations body that won a Nobel Prize last year for its work – has concluded the evidence of global warming is “unequivocal” and that human activities are responsible for most of the increase in global average temperatures.  Burning fossil fuels to power cars, homes, and industry produces most U.S. global warming emissions.

“Arkansas hunters have already experienced the symptoms of global warming first hand,” notes Jack Blackstone of the Arkansas Wildlife Federation.  “It is much harder to hunt during the increasingly warming deer season with biting bugs that use to be limited to the summer months. Waterfowl are dwindling in numbers as they are staying further north during the winter as Arkansas temperatures rise.”

Energy issues have featured prominently in both presidential and vice-presidential debates this election season.  “We’re at a crossroads on energy, and it’s up to the next President to choose a new path that curbs global warming and helps recharge our struggling economy,” said Don Richardson of the Arkansas Climate Awareness Project.

“It’s clear that our energy crisis isn’t just hurting us at the pump, but it’s also causing Arkansans to feel the heat.  The good news is that repowering America with wind and solar power will curb global warming, and clean, renewable energy is one of the few bright spots in our troubled economy,” said Glen Hooks of the Arkansas Chapter of the Sierra Club. 

According to the latest climate science, the United States and the world must break its dependence on fossil fuels and transition rapidly to 100 percent clean, renewable energy if we hope to avoid the most catastrophic effects of global warming.

Specifically, the United States must reduce its global warming emissions by at least 20 percent by 2020 and by 80 percent by 2050 and make energy efficiency improvements and the accelerated development of renewable energy the centerpiece of our environmental and economic development policies.  “This is achievable and will only strengthen our economy and national security”, said Rob Fisher of ECO and member of the Governor’s Global Warming Commission.

Recently, more than 150 members of Congress endorsed strong principles for action on energy and global warming.  Environment America urged that those principles be the blueprint for action for the next President and Congress. 

“We urge Arkansas Congressmen Berry, Ross, and Snyder to join their leadership on this critical issue,  and to cosponsor the Safe Climate Act (H.R. 1590), strong science-based legislation that would put the United States on track to solving global warming,” concluded Audubon’s Smith.

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