Yes, it's an ugly map. But what do you expect when you have to cram nearly 3,000 data points, each signifying a record-breaking extreme weather event, on a single map? Astonishingly, each of those points stands for a record high temperature, a record rain or snowfall, record drought, or other extreme weather event that occurred between January and October of this year. (Which means there are still two whole months to be accounted for, and two more months to break even more records ...)
NRDC has compiled the data onto a single map, and, even better, onto this animated interactive mapping tool. Click over and check it out--it's depressingly mesmerizing.
As the map makes clear, 2011 has been a rather unprecedented year for extreme weather in the United States. And though the mainstream media is still shamefully reluctant to explore the link between such events to longterm trends caused by manmade climate change, the message is getting through (except for you, NBC; here's a shout out to how it should be done). Recent polling has nonetheless found that a majority of the American public has (correctly) understood that we will see more extreme weather as climate change continues. And we will.
For instance, the absolutely devastating drought that crippled Texas for most of the year may or may not have been directly tied to a (perpetually) record-breaking concentration of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, but scientists agree that we will be more likely to see such droughts with greater frequency as global warming advances. The same goes for record rainfall events like the one in Nashville a year ago.
This map makes it perfectly clear that record-breaking weather events are happening all around the nation, and that climate change is likely impacting more Americans' lives than ever. And climate deniers and delayers are seeing their arguments shattered by cruel reality. The question is now, will being presented by such a daunting reality move those Americans already impacted by global warming to finally address it?