Obama address cites heat record, steers clear of climate

President Obama’s weekly address on drought assistance cites new data showing that July was the hottest single month on record in the U.S., but does not mention climate change.

The topic’s omission will likely disappoint environmentalists, who want more attention to climate change in discussions of the extreme heat and drought that has gripped much of the nation.

“It’s really hot. And if this feels worse than normal, that’s because it is. We just found out that the month of July was the warmest month on record – warmer than any other month since we began keeping track more than a century ago,” Obama’s remarks note before describing federal drought assistance efforts.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said July was the hottest month in the contiguous U.S. since recordkeeping began in the late 1800s.

“The warm July temperatures contributed to a record-warm first seven months of the year and the warmest 12-month period the nation has experienced since recordkeeping began in 1895,” the agency said in its monthly temperature report Wednesday.

Some environmentalists have been pushing the administration to address climate change head-on when discussing the federal response to drought.

The group Forecast The Facts is gathering signatures on a petition to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack that urges him to “tell farmers and the American public about the connections between climate change and the current drought.”

Many scientists say that while individual weather events can’t be laid at the feet of climate change, more drought, violent storms and extreme heatwaves are expected in a warming world.

And some experts are now dispensing with the caveat about specific weather events.

James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and colleagues published a new paper that claims heatwaves and droughts in recent years are the direct result of climate change.

Hansen argues that the major European heat wave of 2003, the brutal Russian heat wave of 2010 and droughts in Texas and Oklahoma last year can be attributed to climate change. Forthcoming data will likely reveal the same cause for this year’s record-breaking summer heat, according to Hansen.



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