Summer's scorching signs of a troubled environment
But now Washington is scorching and Moscow is choking. Of course, one cannot claim with certainty that the general warming of the planet is directly responsible for particular episodes of extreme weather. The proximate cause of both Moscow's heat and Pakistan's floods is a halted jet stream that parked undesirable weather systems over these areas, and it's not clear that climate change would increase the frequency of such "blocking events."
It is likely, however, that climate change will nevertheless result in more severe weather -- heat waves, droughts, hurricanes, snowstorms and other dangerous weather events -- even if not by an identical mechanism. Higher temperatures may also make natural disasters with unrelated causes more destructive. At the least, the events in Moscow and Pakistan serve as examples of the sorts of thing that scientists predict will happen more often in regions unprepared to cope, underscoring why people must take seriously the risks associated with continuing to pump carbon [dioxide] into Earth's atmosphere.