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Is Climate Change to Blame for February's Record-Breaking Heat?
By Jeremy Deaton
Also this week, Scott Pruitt took the helm at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Pruitt, who has deep ties to the fossil fuel industry, has described climate science as a "religious belief" and said he expects to scrap the Clean Power Plan, an EPA initiative to limit carbon pollution from power plants.
Scientists have found that carbon pollution is warming the planet, producing more severe weather, including more extreme heat. February's spate of record-high temperatures offers the most recent example of how this process plays out.
In Pruitt's home state of Oklahoma, temperatures hit a record 99ºF earlier this month, more than 40 degrees above the average February high. Texas, Kansas and Colorado also recorded all-time highs. Over the long weekend, Chicago endured four consecutive days of record heat, which coincided with record-setting temperatures in Madison, Milwaukee and other Midwestern cities.
This first three weeks of February have been a meteorological anomaly. But the weather seen this month is quickly becoming the new normal in the U.S. Carbon pollution is trapping heat, driving up temperatures around the country. That means fewer cold days and more warm days.
Global warming is shifting the entire distribution of temperatures, making extreme cold less likely and extreme heat more likely.Environmental Protection Agency
Record hot days—those at the far end of the temperature distribution—bear the strongest human fingerprint. This, in other words, is what climate change looks like.
As the planet warms, we will endure more extreme heat and less extreme cold. February has delivered record temperatures to countries as far afield as Iceland and Australia. So far this month, the U.S. has seen 2,805 record highs and just 27 record lows.
This change in weather patterns does not come without a cost.
For those living in frigid Midwestern states, a balmy day in February is a welcome respite from the typical winter chill. But the early thaw—what scientists call "season creep"—can have disastrous consequences for ecosystems.
Flowers are already beginning to emerge in Chicago, which has gone a record 67 days without an inch of snow. Early blossoms may wilt before they can be pollinated. Farmers in the region may see their crops bud after an early thaw only to perish in a late-season frost.
Because climate change poses an immediate threat to public health, agriculture and wildlife, states and cities aren't waiting for Pruitt's EPA to take action. Massachusetts legislators are now considering a bill that would require the state to get 100 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2035. California has pledged to get to 100 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2045.
"Mr. Pruitt is a clear and present danger to our economic prosperity and the health of our children," California Senate leader Kevin de Léon (D) said in a statement. "California will not follow Trump's destructive path. We've proven that you can protect the environment and grow jobs."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Nexus Media.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Derrick Z. Jackson
As much as hurricanes Katrina and Maria upended African American and Latinx families, the landfall of the coronavirus brings a gale of another order. This Category 5 of infectious disease packs the power to level communities already battered from environmental, economic, and health injustice. If response and relief efforts fail to adequately factor in existing disparities, the current pandemic threatens a knockout punch to the American Dream.
'We Need People's Bailout, Not Polluters' Bailout': Climate Groups Move to Preempt Big Oil Giveaway Amid Pandemic
By Andrea Germanos
A coalition of climate organizations strongly criticized President Donald Trump's in-person Friday meeting with the chief executives of some of the biggest fossil fuel companies in the world, saying the industry that fueled climate disaster must not be allowed to profiteer from government giveaways by getting bailout funds or preferred treatment during the coronavirus pandemic.
An Important Note
No supplement, diet, or lifestyle modification — aside from social distancing and practicing proper hygiene — can protect you from developing COVID-19.
The strategies outlined below may boost your immune health, but they don't protect specifically against COVID-19.
By Zak Smith
It is pretty amazing that in this moment when the COVID-19 outbreak has much of the country holed up in their homes binging Netflix, the most watched show in America over the last few weeks has been focused on wildlife trade — which scientists believe is the source of the COVID-19 pandemic. Make no mistake: Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is about wildlife trade and other aspects of wildlife exploitation, just as surely as the appearance of Ebola, SARS, MERS, avian flu and probably COVID-19 in humans is a result of wildlife exploitation. As a conservationist, this is one of the things I've been thinking about while watching Tiger King. Here are five more:
By Hector Chapa
With the coronavirus pandemic quickly spreading, U.S. health officials have changed their advice on face masks and now recommend people wear cloth masks in public areas where social distancing can be difficult, such as grocery stores.
But can these masks be effective?