by Max Brantley
Two degrees hotter than average in Little Rock and Fort Smith in 2006, says the Sierra Club and U.S. PIRG, drawing on a national report available here.
Global warming is upon us, in other words.
On the other hand, hasn't the weather been pleasant this week?
Sierra Club news release on the jump.
SIERRA CLUB NEWS RELEASE
The average temperature in both Little Rock and Fort Smith was about 2°F above average in 2006, according to a new report released today by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG). In the report, entitled Feeling The Heat: Global Warming and Rising Temperatures In the United States, U.S. PIRG said this warmer-than-normal weather is indicative of what Arkansas can expect with continued global warming.
“Throw out the record books, because global warming is raising temperatures in Arkansas and across the country,” said Glen Hooks, Associate Regional Representative for the Sierra Club. “The long-term forecast is for more of the same unless we quickly and significantly reduce global warming pollution from power plants and passenger vehicles,” continued Hooks
According to the National Climatic Data Center, the 2006 summer and 2006 overall were the second warmest on record for the lower 48 states. 2007 is on track to be the second warmest year on record globally.
To examine recent temperature patterns in the United States, U.S. PIRG compared temperature data for the years 2000-2006 from 255 weather stations located in all 50 states and Washington, DC with temperatures averaged over the 30 years spanning 1971-2000, or what scientists call the “normal” temperature.
Key findings for Arkansas include:
• Over the course of 2006, Little Rock experienced 90 days where the temperature hit at least 90°F, which is 18 days more than the historical average. Fort Smith experienced 91 days where the temperature hit at least 90°F, which is 19 days more than the historical average. Heat waves have serious implications for human health, causing heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and even death.
• In 2006, Little Rock experienced average maximum temperatures — the highest temperatures recorded on a given day — of 2.6°F above normal, and Fort Smith experienced average maximum temperatures of 3.8°F above normal. During the summer, average maximum temperatures were 1°F above normal for Little Rock and 1.6°F above normal for Fort Smith.
• In 2006, the average temperature was 2°F above normal in Little Rock (Adams Field) and 2.1°F above normal in Fort Smith (Fort Smith Municipal Airport). Nationally, the average 2006 temperature was at least 0.5°F above normal at 87% of the locations studied.
In April 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that North America could experience significant water stress, forest fires, and “an increased number, intensity, and duration of heat waves” as temperatures continue to rise.
“Scientists are sounding alarm bells about the impacts of continued global warming,” stated Hooks “The good news is that those same scientists say we can avoid the worst effects of global warming by taking bold action now to reduce global warming pollution,” continued Hooks
To avoid the worst consequences of global warming, the United States must halt increases in global warming emissions now, cut emissions by at least 15-20% by 2020, and slash emissions by at least 80% by 2050.
“The better news is that we have the technology at our fingertips to cut global warming pollution and forge a cleaner, more secure energy future,” said Hooks.
The United States could substantially reduce its global warming pollution by using existing technologies to make power plants, businesses, homes, and cars more efficient and generate more electricity from clean, renewable sources, such as wind and solar power.