Here are two certain facts about the heat: Oklahoma is experiencing one of its hottest summers on record and the local media has failed to discuss it at any length in terms of climate change or the bellwether of an extended drought and hot period.
Just yesterday, Oklahoma City broke the record for its number of summer days with a temperature of 100 degrees or more. The city has now had 51 days at 100 degrees or more, and that number will likely go up. The city of Grandfield in southwestern Oklahoma has endured 87 days of 100 degrees or more, which is a state record.
Oklahoma recorded the hottest average monthly temperature in U.S. history in July.
Is the Oklahoma record heat tied to global warming? This question should be worthy of consideration. Another subject worthy of consideration is whether this summer’s weather pattern will become part of an extended period of drought and excessive heat in Oklahoma.
But here on the prairie, under the shadow of U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, you might just get marginalized as a liberal kook if you even bring up these topics. Inhofe has called global warming a political “hoax” and argues, against all credible evidence, that the science isn’t clear about climate change. Meanwhile, we’re sizzling from Grandfield to Oklahoma City to Tulsa.
Perhaps, Inhofe’s shadow prevents a full discussion in the local media over the issue of what heat like this every summer for an extended period might mean for the state. I don’t know of any local meteorologist who is consistently and thoroughly reporting on the science surrounding this summer’s record heat. Is this heat simply a one-summer aberration? Is that the argument? Isn’t it a meteorologist’s job to discuss both short-term and long-term weather patterns? The hot summer should be the major story of the year in Oklahoma. Where’s the extended coverage?
Joe Rumm, on his Climate Progress blog, recently pointed out the extreme heat in Oklahoma and noted, “. . . climate science projects a permanent dust bowl for the Southwest if we keep listening to Inhofe. It also projects that by century’s end, the state will be above 90°F for 135 days a year!”
Also, here are two “key messages” from the U.S. Global Change Research Program:
U.S. average temperature has risen more than 2°F over the past 50 years and is projected to rise more in the future; how much more depends primarily on the amount of heat-trapping gases emitted globally and how sensitive the climate is to those emissions.
Precipitation has increased an average of about 5 percent over the past 50 years. Projections of future precipitation generally indicate that northern areas will become wetter, and southern areas, particularly in the West, will become drier.
Given Oklahoma’s record heat this summer, don’t these simple facts deserve more discussion in the local media, especially among our meteorologists? Do Inhofe’s views, with the support of the editorial page of The Oklahoman, silence scientific discussion here?