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Extreme weather: 2012 kicks off with record heat, tornadoes & drought; 'strange spring' is 'climate change we're seeing'

A tornado touches down in Lancaster, Texas south of Dallas on Tuesday, April 3, 2012. Tornadoes tore through the Dallas area Tuesday, peeling roofs off homes, tossing big-rig trucks into the air and leaving flattened tractor trailers strewn along highways and parking lots

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Extreme Weather USA: 2012 Kicks Off With Record Heat, Tornadoes & Drought
Yesterday, a dozen tornadoes ripped through Dallas, spurring panic in a highly populated, 6 million-strong metropolitan area. The footage captured by news helicopters was dramatic—semi trucks and trees were hurled into the air like newspapers tossed from a malevolent paperboy.

But the fleet of Texan tornadoes only marks the latest in a year that has already been packed with extreme weather—we've had record-hot winter months, unusually early tornadoes in the midwest, and states wracked with drought. Here's a closer look.

Tornadoes

There was nothing tremendously out of the ordinary about the tornadoes that hit Dallas, but climatologists were concerned about the spate of twisters that swept through Kentucky, Indiana, and three other states in early March. Those tornadoes killed 39 people and exacted untold property damage to homes and buildings across the region.

And tornado season doesn't usually begin until April, leading climate scientists to link the warmer weather to earlier (and potentially longer) seasons. Here's Joe Romm:  read more »

Save Ocean, save Earth. UK: no whale meat; Germany: honor Ric O'Barry for dolphins; EU: label oil/ tar sands as carbon-intensive

importing whale meat into the UK or Europe is in breach of international law

Ric O’Barry, Campaign Director for Earth Island Institute’s Dolphin Project and star of the hit documentary The Cove, will receive the Bambi Award in Germany.

Protesters outside the White House in Washington against TransCanada's proposed oil pipeline from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast. The 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline would take oil extracted from tar sands in Alberta, Canada, and carry it through a pipeline cutting across Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas to refineries in Houston and Port Arthur, Texas.
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Do not bring whale meat home from Iceland, British tourists told - Whale meat on sale at Keflavik airport prompts the Foreign Office to issue a warning to Britons at risk of breaching international law
Up to 70,000 Britons who visit Iceland each year have been given a stiff warning by the Foreign Office not to bring home any whale meat, saying to do so is in breach of international law protecting endangered species.

Penalties of imprisonment or fines up to £5,000 could be meted out by the courts, says the Foreign Office, because importation into Britain and other EU countries is illegal under the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (Cites).  read more »

World population to reach 7billion in few days (increased 1billion in 12yrs), world resources under more strain than ever before

world population trend: to reach 7 billion in oct 2011

total population in millions of inhabitants, growth between 2005 to 2010

China and India have topped the position of most populated countries with huge population of 1.3billion and 1.2billion, respectively.

Already the second most populous country, with 1.2 billion people, India is expected to overtake China around 2030 when its population soars to an estimated 1.6 billion.

Top: cereal grain stalk near Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada; bottom: rush hour in Taipei in 2009 - Taiwan's capital is notorious for its traffic jams, even though many motorists choose motorcycles and scooters over cars.

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Room for one more? World population to reach 7 BILLION in next few days
Children most likely to be born in Asia-Pacific region
Fears over pressure on food supply and medical care

The world's population looks set to smash through the seven billion barrier in the next few days, according to the United Nations.

It comes just 12 years since the total reached six billion - with official estimates saying the figure will top eight billion in 2025 and 10 billion before the end of the century.  read more »

"..what the planet's telling us": Blizzards,tornadoes,floods,record heat,drought,wildfires. Disasters cost US 36+billion this yr

Flood waters from the Passaic River fill the streets covering automobiles including a Chevrolet SUV days after Hurricane Irene in Paterson, New Jersey, August 31, 2011.

Even before Hurricane Irene struck two weeks ago, the costs added up to $35 billion.

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Weather disasters keep costing U.S. billions this year - Blizzards. Tornadoes. Floods. Record heat and drought, followed by wildfires.

The first eight months of 2011 have brought strange and destructive weather to the United States. From the blizzard that dumped almost two feet of snow on Chicago, to killer tornadoes and heat waves in the south, to record flooding, to wildfires that have burned more than 1,000 homes in Texas in the last few days, Mother Nature has been in a vile and costly mood.

Climate experts point to global warming, meteorologists cite the influence of the La Nina weather phenomenon or natural variability and, in the case of tornadoes hitting populated areas, many simply call the death and destruction bad luck.

But given the variety and violence of both short-term weather events and longer-term effects like a Southwestern drought that has lasted years, more scientists say climate itself seems to be shifting and weather extremes will become more common.

"A warmer atmosphere has more energy to power storms. We've loaded the dice," said Jeff Masters, co-founder and director of meteorology for Weather Underground, Inc, speaking on Wednesday at a news conference on climate. "Years like 2011 may become the new normal in the United States in coming decades."  read more »

Oilsands protest goes Hollywood;Margot Kidder plays Earth Mother for real, expects to be arrested as some are already handcuffed

demonstrations have been taking place outside the White House against tar sand pipeline from Canada to US

US Park Police officer handcuffs and arrests a protestor over a proposed pipeline to bring tar sands oil to the US from Canada

Margot Kidder expects to be arrested in a tar sands protest in Washington

US Park Police officers handcuff and arrest protestors over a proposed pipeline to bring tar sands oil from Canada, in front of the White House in Washington, Saturday, Aug. 20, 2011

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More arrests on second day of oil pipeline protests
A Toronto woman was among those arrested on the second day of a mass protest held outside the White House to denounce a planned pipeline that would transport Canadian oil from Alberta to Texas. Dozens of protesters were removed by U.S. Park Police on Sunday for failing to obey orders governing demonstrations on the grounds of the White House.

Patricia Warwick, 68, of Toronto, and a 65-year-old woman from Massachusetts were arrested shortly before noon and by the end of the day about 50 people had been detained. U.S. Park Police Sgt. David Schlosser said late Sunday everyone arrested was later released.  read more »

Over 100F (38C) for 38 consecutive days and counting: US heatwave August 2011, excessive heat warnings for 12 states

record heatwave in US: summer 2011
[Aug 5, 2011] A heat wave affected southern US states from California to North Carolina, and temperatures topped 100F (38C) in parts of Texas for the 38th consecutive day.
extreme heat and drought in TX, summer 2011
Texans have endured over a month of extreme heat and drought.

record heatwave in US: summer 2011

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The South burns! Dallas sizzles in more than 100 degree heat for 38th day in a row - and looks set to break 1980 record of 42 days

Record breaking temperatures scorched the South today, with Dallas baking under more that 100F heat for the 38th day in a row. After enduring a high of 108F today, forecasts suggest there will be no let up in the area, with temperatures continuing to rage until well into next week. If, as meteorologists predict, the mercury keeps hitting above 100F every day until Sunday, the state will break a 31 year record for the longest running heatwave.  read more »

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