Extreme weather events tied to climate change as drought extends over half of US NEWS SEGMENTS WED, 08/01/2012 – 14:10 Year: 2012 Length: 7:28 minutes (6.83 MB) Format: MP3 Mono 44kHz 128Kbps (CBR) Today, the federal government stepped up its assistance to farmers and ranchers hit by the most severe drought in a quarter century. The USDA said more than half of the counties in the US have been designated disaster zones. Today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said his agency is expanding emergency haying and grazing to 3.8 million acres of conservation land and announced a grace period to crop insurance premiums for struggling farmers.
Vilsack also expanded the disaster designation to 218 counties in 12 states. The first six months of 2012 were the hottest on record for the US, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Senate lawmakers convened a hearing on extreme weather and climate change today in DC. California Senator Barbara Boxer noted several events in addition to the ongoing drought, such the breaking away of a large piece of the Greenland ice sheet and heavy flooding. “These recent events make it clear that the climate continues to change and the likelihood of extreme events is growing greater, which puts our nation and puts our people at risk.” Dr. Christopher Field, director of the Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution for Science told the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works that findings from scientists at the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change pointed to extreme weather on the rise. “In its 2012 report on extreme events and disasters, the IPCC concludes based on observations, not on models that we have experienced increases in three kinds of extremes. Extremes of high temperatures, extremes that are associated with intense precipitation and extremes that are associated with high sea levels, basically storm surge. It also provides evidence that human-caused climate change has played a role in these kinds of extremes.” In July, Scientists at the NOAA released a report that analyzed six extreme weather events of 2011 and the role of climate change. For more, we’re joined by Dr. Thomas Peterson, he’s the lead editor of the report and principal scientist at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center. He joins us from Ashville, North Carolina. To access NOAA’s report on extreme weather events of 2011: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/bams-state-of-the-climate/2011.php