by Elizabeth Kolbert
3 What we are seeing now is these predictions being borne out. If no particular flood or drought or storm can be directly attributed to climate change – there’s always the possibility that any single event was just a random occurrence – the overall trend toward more extreme weather follows from the heating of the earth. As the cover of Newsweek declared last week, “weather panic” is the “new normal.” The larger problem is that this “new normal” won’t last. Each additional ton of carbon dioxide that’s spewed into the atmosphere contributes to further warming, thus increasing the risk of violent weather. The day after the President visited Joplin, Fatih Birol, the chief economist for the International Energy Agency, in Paris, announced that, despite the economic slowdown, global CO2 emissions last year rose by a record amount, to almost thirty-one billion metric tons. “I am very worried,” Birol said. “This is the worst news on emissions.”
4 When Obama took office, he appointed some of the country’s most knowledgeable climate scientists to his Administration, and it seemed for a time as if he might take his responsibility to lead on this issue seriously. That hope has faded.
As mentioned in paragraph 3, when the cover of Newsweek magazine declared that “’weather panic’ is the ‘new normal,’” it most likely meant that
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