The Year of Environmental Disasters

New York’s public radio station, WNYC, has been tracking the major events of 2010 in its “What Happened in 2010” series—and has one devoted to climate and energy events. Done as a timeline complete with pictures and the occasional video clip, the listing serves as a vivid reminder of what a calamitous year 2010 was from an environmental standpoint.

There was the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, of course, but their listing begins much earlier—specifically with the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that devastated Haiti in January of 2010 and killed up to 250,000 people. Then there was the April 5, 2010 explosion at the Massey Energy coal mine in West Virginia that left 29 dead—“the country’s worst mine disaster in forty years.” The BP spill may command most of the timeline’s middle portion, but then gives way to deadly flooding in Pakistan (up to 1,600 dead), a horrific heat wave and wildfires in Russia, and finally, on December 10: “NASA releases its monthly global temperature data, showing that the past 12 months have produced the highest land and ocean temperatures ever recorded. 2010 is poised to be the hottest year on record.”

In all, it’s a sobering look at the year we’re leaving behind and should be a call to action. But with Republicans taking the majority of seats in the House of Representatives, many of whom actively campaigned against any cap-and-trade bill that might begin to slow the effects of damaging global warming, it seems unlikely that call will be heeded.