Smog from ongoing forest fires, plus temperatures 25°F higher than normal have engulfed Moscow for over a week. Alexandr Solo via flickr via flickr.
When the heatwave/forest fire/drought in Russia started a few weeks ago things were bad enough, with Moscow engulfed in smog the likes of which it had never seen and drought stunting crops in the countryside. Well, things have only gotten worse since then--the daily death rates doubling due to a combination of heat and unhealthy air--and finally people are starting to talk about the link with climate change.Russian president Dmitry Medvedev at a Russian Security Council Meeting: "Everyone is talking about climate change now. Unfortunately, what is happening now in our central regions is evidence of this global climate change, because we have never in our history faced such weather conditions in the past. This means that we need to change the way we work, change the methods that we used in the past." (Mongabay)
Indeed, the Economic Times quotes the head of Russia's weather service as saying that after examining historic records, the daily highs of 100°F compared to the normal summer average of 75°F are unprecedented in 1000 years. Heat like this simply has not been known in Moscow in a millennia worth of documents.
While Russia Bakes, South Asia Drowns
All of this is off course made more poignant that at the same time in South Asia flooding rages--primarily in Pakistan, but also in parts of India and China as well.
While most coverage of the ongoing humanitarian disaster has focused, perhaps understandably on the unfolding drama of 14 million people flooded out and close to 2,000 people dead, at least some mention that the changing climate might be contributing to the situation is emerging.
Mongabay makes the connection, noting that Pakistani glaciologist Professor M. Iqbal Khan has said, "I have warned everyone about the floods in Peshawar, Charsadda, and Nowshera due to the global warming in my previous interviews but nobody took notice and the result is before us. It is the glaciers which are adding fuel to the fire and due to the melting of glaciers the flood situation is aggravated."
Perhaps the 'adding fuel to the fire' reference isn't as appropriate as some others, considering it's a preponderance of water that's the problem, but Prof Khan's words are welcome.
Everything From Extreme Summer Heat to Winter Snow Consistent With Climate Change Models
Let's remember in all this that the past six months have set all sorts of heat records, and that even though it looks unlikely that a new record Arctic sea ice minimum will be set this year, we're well on our way to setting a new second-lowest minimum, with multi-year ice continuing to decline.
All of which is to say: While climate change does not cause any particular single event, everything from the record heat in the US and in Russia, to the worst flooding in almost a century in South Asia, to continued Arctic sea ice melting--and looking back further, extreme winter conditions in parts of the US--are all consistent with the predicted overall effects of climate change.
It's not merely coincidence, even if you can't draw a solid causal line between some entity called global warming and these weather event.
More on Global Climate Change:
Moscow Engulfed in Peat Smoke As City's Record-Breaking Heat Sets Off Fires
Russian President: Heat Waves are 'Wake Up Call' to Climate Change
The Link Between Record-Breaking Global Heatwaves & Climate Change More Frequent Extreme Heatwaves Common Across the US by 2040