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As everyone in the United States enjoys the holiday weekend, literal and figurative heat seems to be the global theme in both weather and climate change legislation. Temperatures all over the globe continued to break records and wreak havoc wherever they rose, and pressure on governments to increase efforts to curb climate change were intensified by the scientific community.

Week-27-2

1.  19 AZ Firefighters’ Deaths Politicized

Not since the terrorist attacks on 9/11 have as many firefighters died in a single incident.  I was sitting at dinner when my phone beeped with the CNN alert that 18 or 19 men had died, and that’s all we talked about for the rest of our meal.  Only one member of the unit survived due to an assignment that separated him from the group. The heat of the wildfire that overtook the firemen was so intense that the mens’ portable fire shelters could not withstand the temperature.  When I was working at a local television station as a reporter, we had to have fire training to cover the many fires that the Reno, Nevada area would experience.  During the summer there was always a brush fire somewhere!  We trained with the portable fire shelters and you can’t help but imagine what it must be like having to deploy that shelter, experience that heat and hope that you survive without being too scared from the burns.

As Arizona mourns the tragedy, conservatives have begun accusing liberals of politicizing the event by suggesting global warming played a role in the deaths. Mother Jones reported on how climate change made conditions ripe for larger and more dangerous wildfires, but conservatives scoff and claim lightning was ruled as the cause of the fire and climate change is irrelevant in the case.

Isn’t that like claiming that only the match lit the fire and the gasoline had nothing to do with it?

 2. Marshall Islands Simultaneously Flooding, Experiencing Drought, and Losing Coastline

One local said it was the “wettest drought.”  For many of us, the effects of climate change may seem like distant consequences that may or may not occur within our lifetimes. Inhabitants of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific ocean would beg to differ. After a series of storms ravaged the area, islanders have experienced almost every disaster global warming has to offer. Drought has struck the Northern islands, forcing many to live on a QUART of water a day and abandon growing crops altogether. Elsewhere rising sea levels have helped storm surges flood areas in the South, including the Islands’ capital of Majuro. In response, the government is seeking international aid and pledging to use as much renewable energy as possible. But ultimately the Islands’ survival will hinge on the rest of the world’s efforts to curb climate change…

3. Temperatures in Western U.S. Approaching Global All-Time High

Temperature records are being broken across the western United States, and Death Valley in particular may break the record for hottest recorded temperature of all time. That milestone was set in 1913 when the temperatures in Death Valley soared to 134 degrees. As of this writing, the mercury has stopped at 129.9 degrees. Tourists in the area flocked to large thermometer displays on banks and businesses to have their pictures taken next to the historically high temperature readings- a rather foreboding keepsake…

4. UN Declares Previous Decade Has Shown Unprecedented Global Warming

The UN’s agency responsible for monitoring weather, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), released a report stating that 2001 to 2010 was an unprecedented decade of climate extremes. Data from 139 countries was used to reach this conclusion. The WMO also points to extreme droughts and flooding events worldwide as additional evidence of climate change, and suggests that such events will become more frequent in the coming decade. The only point of contention the report has with some scientists is the notion that global warming has reached a plateau. “If anything,” says WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud, “we should talk about the acceleration [of global temperatures].”

This report comes on the heels of another depressing report from the World Bank stating that Africa will experience widespread starvation and heavily populated areas of some Asian countries may be underwater within 30 years.

AZ Firefighters' Deaths Politicized and other climate change news from Week 27, 2013