Although not the end of the world, the year 2012 remains unusual for its extreme weather events and natural disasters. According to the scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the average temperature for the contiguous United States in 2012 was 55.3 degrees, 3.2 degrees higher than the 20th century average and one degree above the previous record from 1998. Even worse, other than being the record warmest year, 2012 is also one of the most extreme years for the nation based on the U.S. Climate Extremes Index, second only to 1998 in terms of extreme temperature and precipitation, and landfalling tropical cyclones.
In addition to record heat, a historic drought and several storms also happened last year, causing significant losses to agriculture and related industries. Economic damage inflicted by Hurricane Sandy alone is estimated to reach $50 billion, according to The New York Times.
Rising temperatures and related devastating climate events are not freak events but maybe just the beginning of a long term trend of climate deterioration. Researchers of the National Climatic Data Center at the NOAA said the higher temperatures are consistent with their observation and people are going to see more extreme weather with increasing frequency.
Later this year, the state of California will release its climate readiness report that lays out what actions our communities and industries will need to take to prepare for a changing climate. CalCAN will continue to advocate for resources for agriculture to better prepare for more extreme weather events which will challenge one of our most basic needs – food production.