“What we’re seeing is a window into what global warming really looks like,” said Princeton University climate scientist Michael Oppenheimer, referring to raging wildfires in the US west, in a press briefing on Thursday. "It looks like heat, it looks like fires, it looks like this kind of environmental disaster... This provides vivid images of what we can expect to see more of in the future."
Oppenheimer, speaking alongside other scientists, argued that shorters winters with less snow, coupled with earlier Springs, and extreme summer heat -- all contributors for the fires burning in Colorado, Wyoming, and New Mexico -- were also conditions that he and his colleagues at the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicted would result from carbon-induced climate change.
Since 1950 the number of heat waves worldwide has increased, and heat waves have become longer, according to the new report. In the most recent years, it continues, "the global area hit by extremely unusual hot summertime temperatures has increased 50-fold. Over the contiguous United States, new record high temperatures over the past decade have consistently outnumbered new record lows by a ratio of 2:1. In 2012, the ratio for the year through June 18 stands at more than 9:1. Though this ratio is not expected to remain at that level for the rest of the year, it illustrates how unusual 2012 has been, and how these types of extremes are becoming more likely."