Physics professor: Past decade ‘hottest ten years ever recorded’

By Samantha Kimmey
Thursday, December 27, 2012 10:59 EDT
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This past year’s seemingly endless stream of catastrophic storms wasn’t just a media narrative, according to Michio Kaku, a physics professor at the City University of New York.

On CBS This Morning on Thursday, Kaku discussed 2012′s “wacky weather” and how global warming, which creates more energy circulating on the planet, exacerbates destructive tornadoes, storms, hurricanes and even forest fires.

“You look at the weather patterns over the last year, and they all seem wild, extreme. What was driving that?” asked anchor Rebecca Jarvis.

“Well, when you look outside you say, ‘The weather’s on steroids,’” Kaku said. “But there’s no single aha moment where you can say, ‘Aha, this is what’s driving the whole thing.’ But what you can say is that the Earth is heating up. Which means more moisture going into the air. And when moisture collides with cold air from Canada, watch out. That’s what’s driving hurricanes and tornados and droughts and even forest fires in Texas, for example.”

He said that 2012 “could go down as one of the hottest years ever recorded in the history of science. The last ten years goes down as the hottest ten years ever recorded in the history of science. And that means more wacky weather.”

“Global warming is a misnomer,” he went on. “It should be called global swings, where we have flooding in one area, forest fires and droughts in another area, simultaneously.”

He said that larger trends reveal “something disturbing. All the glaciers on the Earth are receding, you see the fact that the North Polar ice caps has diminished by 50 percent just in the last 50 years. An area the size of the United States in terms of ice disappeared this year, over the polar ice caps. The seasons are changing. Summer is longer, winter is shorter, tropical diseases are moving north.”

And, he advises, get used to it. “We could be experiencing more 100-year floodings, storms and hurricanes because there’s more energy circulating in the planet Earth because the Earth on average is heating up.”

While he says people can continue to argue over the human contribution to climate change, “Everyone agrees the Earth is heating up, there’s more energy in the system. That means more swings in the weather.”

Discussing Hurricane Sandy, he said the Caribbean and West Atlantic region is four degrees hotter than normal. “That’s the energy that drives hurricanes. Warm water. And because the Caribbean is hotter than normal, and because it collides with cold air coming in from Canada, that’s what drove the energy that devastated much of the Northeast.”

Watch the video, via CBS, below.

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