Editorial Cartoon of the Day: January 1, 2013

Pat Bagley, Cagle Cartoons

Pat Bagley, Cagle CartoonsPat Bagley is an award-winning cartoonist whose work has been featured in Time, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, and The Guardian of London. His syndicated cartoons appear in newspapers around the country. Bagley was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, but grew up in Oceanside, California, where his father was mayor. Politics was an early and abiding interest. As part of a high school civics class, Bagley participated in a PBS interview of Ronald Reagan. He graduated from Brigham Young University in 1978 and was hired by The Salt Lake Tribune the following year. Bagley is the author of several books including, “This is the Place” (a young adult history of Utah), “Dinosaurs of Utah,” “Welcome to Utah,” and the nationally acclaimed “Clueless George Goes to War.”

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Editorial Cartoon of the Day: December 31, 2012

Cam Cardow, Cagle Cartoons

Cameron Cardow is the editorial cartoonist for the Ottawa Citizen, and a two-time winner of the National Newspaper Award, Canada's top award for editorial cartooning.

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Keeping the Status Quo in This Year’s Election

Photo courtesy of Imagined Reality

Mitt Romney and Barack Obama were more gracious and eloquent after the election than during the long campaign. They each sent the right signals Tuesday night, but will anything change?

The real news of the ’12 election is that the nation is more sharply divided than ever.

“At a time like this,” Romney told his Boston audience, “we can’t risk partisan bickering and political posturing.” He said things in America are at a “critical point,” and he appealed to citizens as well as politicians to “rise to the occasion.”

For once, it didn’t sound like political-speak. It was the conclusion of a man who loves his country and had just lost an election despite winning the male vote, the white vote, the married vote, and the vote of people over age 45.

In Chicago, President Obama told an enthusiastic crowd, “What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on earth.” Obama won a remarkable 93 percent of the black vote, plus over 70 percent of the Hispanic and Asian vote. He won among females, unmarried people, and those earning less than $50,000 a year.

In truth, Obama and Romney were each victorious — among the distinctly different segments of our population for which each party’s platform was designed. Voters, for the most part, were over-informed. Rich folks knew that Obama wanted to raise their taxes; poor people knew that Romney hoped to cut their government assistance. And so forth and so on, through a long and contentious list of issues from reproductive rights, to gay rights; from energy to environment.

Perhaps the clearest sign of how sharply divided the nation is on economic and social issues is that war — usually a flashpoint in presidential elections, especially when we’re in the middle of one — seemed to matter very little. Indeed, the candidates were hard pressed in their final debate on foreign affairs to find points on which they disagreed.

“The recognition that we have common hopes and dreams won’t end all the gridlock,” the president said, “or solve all our problems or substitute for the painstaking work of building consensus and making the difficult compromises needed to move this country forward.”

Hours later there was a slight hint at progress, as House Speaker John Boehner said Republicans are now willing to “accept new revenue” as a means to avoid the “fiscal cliff.”

Sen. Olympia Snowe, the moderate Republican from Maine who is stepping down, cautions, “Our leaders must understand that there is not only strength in compromise, courage in conciliation and honor in consensus-building — but also a political reward for following these tenets.” Alas, Snowe believes things won’t change in the foreseeable future.

The nation entered the 2012 election with only a handful of “battleground” states not clearly defined as red or blue. Based on Tuesday’s results there will be even fewer such battlegrounds in the years ahead.

The encouraging news for Democrats is that the population continues to expand in their direction. The frustration for Republicans is that no amount of campaign spending or sophisticated marketing will change people’s minds about certain core beliefs. Thus, the GOP can’t broaden its base without fundamentally altering some of its positions.

When all was said and done, the nation decided to pretty much leave things exactly where they’ve been.

To borrow an old cliche from the legal profession, President Obama seems to have won the equivalent of a pie-eating contest, in which the prize is more pie.

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Peter Funt

Peter FuntIn print and on television, Peter Funt continues the Funt Family tradition of making people smile – while examining the human condition.

After 15 years hosting the landmark TV series “Candid Camera,” Peter writes frequent op-eds for The Boston Globe and The Wall Street Journal as well as his weekly column distributed by the Cagle Cartoon Syndicate. His writing contains the same pointed social observations that have made “Candid Camera” so popular since its invention by Peter’s dad, Allen, back in 1947. His new book, "Cautiously Optimistic," takes America's temperature in six-dozen essays, guaranteed to make readers think and smile. It's available at Amazon.com and through CandidCamera.com.

Peter Funt actually made his first appearance on “Candid Camera” when he and the legendary series were each just three years old. Peter posed as a shoeshine boy who charged $10 per shoe! Since that time he has appeared in hundreds of “Candid Camera” sequences, hosted over 200 network episodes.

In addition to his hidden-camera work, Peter Funt has produced and hosted TV specials on the Arts & Entertainment and Lifetime cable networks. He also spent five years as an editor and reporter with ABC News in New York.

Earlier in his career, Peter wrote dozens of articles for The New York Times and TV Guide about television and film. He was editor and publisher of the television magazine On Cable. And he authored the book "Gotcha!" for Grosset & Dunlap on the lost art of practical joking.

Peter’s essay on the evolution of television is included in “The Story of American Business,” published in 2009 by Harvard Business Press.

Peter also follows in his father's footsteps as President of Laughter Therapy Foundation, a non-profit organization started by Allen Funt in 1982. Drawing from the Candid Camera library, Laughter Therapy sends special videos, at no charge, to critically ill people throughout the U.S.

Peter Funt received his degree in journalism from the University of Denver. In 2010 he returned to the Denver campus to be honored as a Master Scholar in Arts and Humanities.

He is a past winner of the annual Silurian's Award for radio news reporting, for his ABC News coverage of racial disturbances in Asbury Park, NJ.

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Editorial Cartoon of the Day: November 5, 2012

Steve Sack, Creators Syndicate

Steve Sack, Creators SyndicateSteve Sack has been the editorial cartoonist since 1981. The St. Paul native was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for cartooning in 2004. The Pulitzer Board said Sack stood apart because of his “vivid, distinctive cartoons that used creative metaphors for high-impact results.” Sack is a member of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. He’s won numerous national honors for his work, including a Sigma Delta Chi Award (2003), National Headliner Award (2003), Scripps-National Journalism Award (2004) and the Berryman Award from the National Press Foundation (2006.

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Voting With Just a Little Bit of Information

Photo courtesy of Keith Ivey

This will hit you on Tuesday, unless you voted early and already had the experience: At the bottom of the statewide ballot are names of people who want to wear robes and dispense justice, and if you know your way around that roster, you’re in the minority.

If you know all of them, you either work in the courthouse or you’re a campaign consultant.

If we’re going to elect judges, why do we make it so hard to learn enough about them to vote intelligently? It’s hard for them to raise money from anyone who doesn’t have business before them. They are supposed to remain impartial even while running as partisans.

In a state with 26 million people, it’s difficult to get past the standard of “That’s a pretty good ballot name.”

Some judges — Justice Don Willett of the Texas Supreme Court is a recent example — take heed of recent federal court rulings that hack away at restrictions on what judges can talk about during campaigns. Broadly speaking, they can talk about issues, as long as they’re not getting too close to telling people how they would rule in particular cases.

He’s on the state’s highest civil court, where candidates are more likely to have some financial support for their campaigns. Lots of that support comes from people who might appear before the court — lawyers and potential litigants — because, as it turns out, it’s easier to get people to contribute in their own interests than in plain old civic interest.

The evidence for that — the money the candidates are able to raise — can be found just one step down the ballot, where voters find the names of potential judges for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. That’s the state’s other high court — the one that handles criminal law.

The shorthand, politically, is that there is more money in civil cases, where economic interests are balanced, than in criminal cases, where the life-and-death cases are decided. And there is more campaign money available for Supreme Court races than for the contests at its criminal twin.

What are voters to do?

They could actively research the races, but that’s really the province of participants — lawyers, consultants, journalists and so on. They could use party cues, which is generally the default, especially in a state with such widespread straight-ticket voting.

Sometimes there is a little more information available. The presiding judge on the Court of Criminal Appeals, Sharon Keller, a Republican, has committed news a couple of times during her tenure, creating the possibility that voters know something more about her than her party affiliation. Her opponent, Keith Hampton, an Austin Democrat and criminal defense lawyer who has swept the legal bar polls and newspaper endorsements, says the key to the race is connecting her name, in voters’ minds, to the stories about her.

The first controversy started when Keller turned away a last-minute appeal that came in shortly after a 5 p.m. deadline in the case of Michael Wayne Richard in 2007. After some convoluted disciplinary hearings, an appointed special master said what Keller did was embarrassing but not worthy of official sanction. Keller next made the headlines when The Dallas Morning News reported she didn’t include more than $2 million in real estate holdings in mandatory state ethics disclosures.

Hampton says voters know some of that history but don’t necessarily link her name to it. He has raised about $80,000 for his race (other statewide judicial races regularly run into the millions of dollars) and is trying to help voters with the dots he wants them to connect. He’ll get the results of his experiment in politics on Tuesday night.

But this is a rare case in which actual information might leak into a judicial race that might otherwise turn on the colors of the candidates’ partisan flags.

Hampton said he would like to pull together a group of reformers — some known, some not — to talk about changing the way Texas chooses its judges. How would that change the courts?

“They would be an older crowd, with longer track records, with board certifications,” he said. “We’d have some diminishment of the judiciary being changed by these political mood swings. They’d be more diverse. And you wouldn’t necessarily know what party they were from.”

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/texas-politics/2012-elections/voting-just-little-bit-information/. Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.

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Ross Ramsey, The Texas Tribune

Ross Ramsey, The Texas TribuneRoss Ramsey is managing editor of the Texas Tribune, and continues as editor of Texas Weekly, the premier newsletter on government and politics in the Lone Star State, a role he's had since September 1998. TW was a print-only journal when he took the reins in 1998; he switched it to a subscription-based, Internet-only journal by the end of 2004 without a significant loss in subscribers. As Texas Weekly's primary writer for 11 years, he turned out roughly two million words in more than 500 editions, added an online library of resources and documents and items of interest to insiders, and a daily news clipping service that links to stories from papers across Texas.

Before joining Texas Weekly in September 1998, Ramsey was Associate Deputy Comptroller for Policy with the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, also working as the agency's Director of Communications.

Prior to that 28-month stint in government, Ramsey spent 17 years in journalism, reporting for the Houston Chronicle from its Austin bureau and for the Dallas Times Herald, first on the business desk in Dallas and later as the paper's Austin Bureau Chief.

Prior to that, as a Dallas-based freelance business writer, he wrote for regional and national magazines and newspapers. Ramsey got his start in journalism in broadcasting, working for almost seven years covering news for radio stations in Denton and Dallas

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John Stossel: Ann Coulter Tries to Defend Romney

Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore

Mitt Romney tells people he won’t fire federal workers or cut education spending. He says he’ll spend more on the military. He sounds like a big-government guy. Or is he just pandering for votes?

Ann Coulter came on my TV show to defend Romney.

“What you call pandering is called getting elected,” Coulter said.

Romney says he’ll repeal Obamacare. Great! But he wants to keep popular parts: coverage for pre-existing conditions and keeping grown kids on their parents’ policies until age 26. Those mandates are popular. But that’s not insurance. That’s welfare.

“If we do not repeal Obamacare in the next few years, America takes the first step into 1,000 years of darkness. … Romney is far more free market than any recent Republican candidate, including George Bush. What Romney is talking about here is the free market.”

But that’s not the free market. It’s a forced handout.

“If it’s popular, it will be provided on the free market. There are insurance products we can’t even think of, including buying insurance for your unborn children. … The problem with health care — and the reason Romneycare was a libertarian solution for a governor to provide because the governor can’t repeal all the federal government stuff — is that right now, you already have government intervention. Government pays for nearly 50 percent of all health care in America. It is already 50 percent socialist. Romney is going to roll it back, apply free-market magic, and everything you want covered is going to be covered.”

But he says he will force every insurance company to cover pre-existing conditions.

“He’s not saying ‘force.’ … The free market will cover it. I promise you that’s what he means.”

Really? He does say, “Pre-existing conditions are covered under my plan.” That sounds like force. A free market is voluntary. But I decided to move on.

Romney wants to increase military spending. America is going broke, and yet we still spend about as much on “defense” as all other countries combined. How can we afford this?

“For one thing, I do trust Romney to cut a lot of government — more than Ronald Reagan did. That’s why we need Romney right now as much as we needed Reagan in 1980. This is a free-market guy. He saved companies from going into bankruptcy. He saved the Olympics from going into bankruptcy. In Massachusetts — the Soviet Union — he balanced the budget and cut taxes. You need someone who’ll go through the budget line by line and look at the things that can be cut.”

But he says he’s going to increase military spending by $2 trillion!

“With a booming economy we’re going to have under Romney, we will have so much money we won’t know where to spend it.”

I moved on again. In one debate with Obama, Romney said, “I don’t have any plan to cut education funding.” He doesn’t? Why not? Education is a local responsibility. The federal government wastes $100 billion every year, intruding on local schools. But Romney won’t even cut that?

Coulter wouldn’t defend her candidate on that point.

“But I will just say in his defense … he said, ‘We want to send that money to the parents.’ He’s talking about vouchers there.”

My last complaint about Romney was his promise to label China a currency-manipulator, and if China doesn’t respond, raise tariffs. So he wants a trade war? That would hurt everyone. And raising tariffs means Americans pay more for things.

“You’re having a kneejerk reaction to the word ‘tariffs.’ … That’s not the issue. The issue is the intellectual (property) theft. … Every libertarian I know is very concerned about intellectual theft.”

Well, some libertarians don’t think that’s theft, but that’s another story. Romney mostly talks about the Chinese currency, not intellectual property, and yet currency manipulation is something our Federal Reserve has been known to do. If China devalues its currency, Chinese people suffer, but we Americans get to buy cheaper products. We win!

Coulter dodged my argument. “If we continue for five more seconds on currency manipulation,” Coulter said, “I’m going to need a bottle of NoDoz.”

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John Stossel, Creators Syndicate

John Stossel, Creators SyndicateAward-winning news correspondent John Stossel is the author of "No They Can't! Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed."

John is currently with Fox Business Network and Fox News. Before making the change to Fox News, Stossel was the co-anchor of ABC News's "20/20." Eight to 10 million people watched his program weekly. Often, he ended "20/20" with a TV column called "Give Me a Break," which challenged conventional wisdom.

Stossel's prime-time specials on myths, parenting issues, sex and trends in pop culture rate among the top news programs and have earned him uncommon praise: "The most consistently thought-provoking TV reporter of our time," said The Dallas Morning News. The Orlando Sentinel said he "has the gift for entertaining while saying something profound."

Stossel takes this reporting expertise and applies it to his weekly newspaper column for Creators Syndicate. Ready to cover topics newspaper readers care about, Stossel pokes fun at the ridiculous and lauds the excellent.

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Nest Fest 2012 Turns Out Bigger Than Ever

Photo courtesy of Chuck Briese

Nest Fest, the annual fall festival put on by York and Irons Junior High schools, was a huge success on Saturday. Hundreds of folks turned out for the food, the entertainment, the bounce houses and rock wall, the face painting, and to see all the cool things on display.

Nest Fest organizers Kim Tomlinson and Christine Rosas, along with all of their school volunteers, put on a terrific event.

My only regret was that we didn’t have more adults getting in on the Gangnam Style action on the dance floor. There is a lot we can learn from our high schoolers and junior high kids. Maybe next year.

If you weren’t able to make it Saturday, here are a few photos of what went on: 

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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

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The Eagles? They Have Not Yet Said “No” to Nest Fest 2012

Don Henley, Glenn Frey, and the rest of The Eagles have been invited to perform at Nest Fest 2012. They have yet to respond.

Those autumn temperatures are now upon us – OK, not really – but they should be by Saturday, October 13, when York Junior High and the new Irons Junior High combine forces to put on Nest Fest 2012 (formerly Yorkapalooza).

Nest Fest is a community event designed to promote family, community and school spirit for the residents and students throughout the Oak Ridge feeder zone. There will not only be student participation in the event from the junior high schools, but also from ORHS, Cox and Vogel Intermediate schools, and Broadway, Kaufman, Birnham Woods, Ford, Oak Ridge, and Houser elementary schools. Yes, everyone who is anyone is going to be there.

There will be all sorts of festival-type activities, including inflatables for kids (and very small adults), a dunking booth, face painting, craft vendors, a raffle, pet adoptions, and of course, York and Irons spirit wear.

There will be food and beverages, including Mexican food from Margarita’s, award-winning BBQ from Grillz Gone Wild, gourmet fare from private chef Candice Flanagan, and burgers, pizza and all sorts of baked goods. You won’t leave hungry.

No festival is complete without fine entertainment, and there will be performances throughout the day, along with a DJ. Finally, because it’s Nest Fest, the iconic band of the 70′s, The Eagles, has been extended an invitation to perform (really). No word yet on whether Don Henley, Glen Frey and Co. will be able to make it (but Nest Fest does fall between tour dates).

Nest Fest is still seeking vendors and sponsors for this extravaganza. Sponsorship fees range from $175 for a Bounce House to $800 for the rock wall. Vendors can get inside or outside tables for $50 to $75. Current vendors include Scentsy, Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, Keller Williams, and Silpada. Vendor spots are available only through October 3, so sign up now – contact Christine Rosas for more information.

As the Eagles say, take it easy until it’s time for Nest Fest. Or take it to the limit. Take a break from life in the fast lane. Know that one of these nights (specifically Saturday, October 13) you’ll have that peaceful, easy feeling, even if you happen to be the new kid in town.

[Editor's note: if you have a suggestion on more Eagles-themed references, let us know on Facebook]

 

 

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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

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John Stossel: I Like Gary Johnson

Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore

All political candidates call themselves freedom-lovers, but they are not. Neither major party really opposes government control of the economy or of our personal lives. I’m a libertarian because I see the false choice offered by political left and right: Democrats talk about personal liberty; Republicans talk about economic freedom. But what they do once in power belies their words.

I say we’re best off if government just leaves us alone to our peaceful cooperation with whomever we please. Let politicians advocate moral behavior. Let them give to charities. But leave government — which is physical force — out of it.

That’s why I like Gary Johnson, the former Republican governor of New Mexico. He’s the Libertarian Party candidate for president. As governor, Johnson vetoed 750 bills, and yet he got re-elected in that blue state.

I asked Johnson what it means to be a libertarian.

“Fiscally responsible, socially accepting … more liberal than Obama on several issues, more conservative than Romney on several issues.”

Johnson proposes to cut federal spending by more than 43 percent:

“Balance the federal budget now. I think that unless we do that, we’re going to find ourselves in a monetary collapse.”

To do that, he’d go where the money is. He’d cut the big programs that will soon bankrupt us. That includes Medicare. Conventional wisdom says what he’s proposing is cruel and, for a politician, suicidal.

“Look, we’ve got to slash Medicare spending. If we don’t, we’re going to find ourselves with no health care whatsoever. Medicaid, same thing. Military spending, same thing.”

The left claims that without social spending, people would starve in the streets!

“This is the exact reaction that I got as governor of New Mexico, having vetoed all that legislation. … Kids were going to starve, all the worst things were going to happen, and none of them did. And I got re-elected.”

Who would decide what part of Medicare to cut?

“Give this up to the states. Fifty laboratories of innovation and best practice … (instead of) Washington top-down, Washington-knows-best — that’s what has us in the situation that we’re in right now.”

Johnson also says, “End the wars.” Won’t a pullout of our troops mean the terrorists win?

“We have hundreds of millions of enemies … that, but for our military interventions, we would not otherwise have. So let’s take military spending back to 2003 spending levels. Start out with the premise that we should provide ourselves with a strong national defense. But ‘defense’ here is the operative word. Not ‘offense’ and not ‘nation-building.’ We’re building roads, schools, bridges, highways and hospitals in other countries, and we have those needs here in this country.”

In one of Johnson’s campaign ads, he compares the U.S. Constitution to the U.S. tax code.

“One is simple and about equal rights for all. The other is extremely complex and anything but equal rights for all. It’s crony capitalism in a nutshell. It’s the root of evil. Individuals, groups, corporations pay for loopholes. Both parties sell those loopholes. Eliminate the IRS. Abolish income tax (and) corporate tax.”

How will government get money?

“With a national consumption tax. I’m embracing the Fair Tax. … Adopting the Fair Tax would issue pink slips to half of Washington lobbyists.”

Johnson would also legalize marijuana.

“Control it, regulate it, tax it.”

I like Johnson’s message: Let no one be coerced by government beyond the small amount needed to fund a limited government that keeps us safe. Do not let government forcibly take other people’s money. When in doubt, leave it out — or rather, leave it to the market and other voluntary institutions.

But sadly that’s not how most people think. Most people think problems are things that are solved by laws. They assume it’s just the laziness or stupidity of the “other” side’s politicians that prevents government from solving our problems.

But government rarely solves problems. Government is inefficient. There’s almost nothing government can do that we cannot do better as free individuals and groups of individuals working together voluntarily.

Without big government, our possibilities are limitless.

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John Stossel, Creators Syndicate

John Stossel, Creators SyndicateAward-winning news correspondent John Stossel is the author of "No They Can't! Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed."

John is currently with Fox Business Network and Fox News. Before making the change to Fox News, Stossel was the co-anchor of ABC News's "20/20." Eight to 10 million people watched his program weekly. Often, he ended "20/20" with a TV column called "Give Me a Break," which challenged conventional wisdom.

Stossel's prime-time specials on myths, parenting issues, sex and trends in pop culture rate among the top news programs and have earned him uncommon praise: "The most consistently thought-provoking TV reporter of our time," said The Dallas Morning News. The Orlando Sentinel said he "has the gift for entertaining while saying something profound."

Stossel takes this reporting expertise and applies it to his weekly newspaper column for Creators Syndicate. Ready to cover topics newspaper readers care about, Stossel pokes fun at the ridiculous and lauds the excellent.

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Globe Records Fourth Warmest August as Arctic Ice Melts

Map showing global land and ocean surface temperature departures from average during August 2012. Image courtesy of NOAA/NCDC.

August was the fourth warmest such month on record worldwide, marking the 330th straight month with a global temperature above the 20th century average, according to a report released Monday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In other words, the last time the globe saw a below average month, Ronald Reagan was just entering his second term in office. The last below average August occurred even further back in time, in 1976, when Gerald Ford was serving as U.S. President.

Map showing global land and ocean surface temperature departures from average during August 2012. Click on the image for a larger version.
Credit: NOAA/NCDC.

Warmer than average temperatures occurred in the northeastern U.S., eastern Canada, southern Greenland, central and southern Europe, Japan, and western Australia, among other locations. Siberia lived up to its reputation by being the main region that was cooler than average during the period.

The combined global average land and ocean temperature for August was 61.22°F, or 1.12°F above the 20th century average. The global land temperature alone tied with 2001 and 2011 as the second-warmest August on record. Ocean temperatures tied with 2006 as the fifth warmest on record, and a warming trend in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific signals a coming El Nino event, NOAA’s National Climatic Data Centerstated. El Niño conditions are likely to be declared sometime during September, and such events often boost global average temperatures — making another record warmest year more likely.

August saw a record decline in Arctic sea ice, with the ice cover reaching the record smallest daily extent on August 26, a level that had been previously set on September 18, 2007. The official 2012 sea ice minimum is likely to be announced during the next several days. Sea ice extent during August averaged just 1.82 million square miles, which, at nearly 40 percent below the 1979 to 2000 average, was the all-time lowest August sea ice extent on record.

During August, the Arctic lost an average of 35,400 square miles of ice per day, NOAA reported, which was the fastest rate ever observed for the month. That is the equivalent of losing an area of ice equal to the state of Maine every day for 31 days.

By the end of the month, sea ice extent had dropped below 1.4 million square miles, much below the 2007 record level of 1.61 million square miles, NOAA stated. The six lowest sea ice extents have all occurred in the past six years, a sign of the rapid disappearance of summer sea ice in the Far North, a development that may have far-reaching implications for weather patterns in the northern hemisphere in particular.

Meanwhile, Antarctic sea ice during August ranked as the fourth-largest August extent on record there. The disparity between sea ice around the South and North Poles was anticipated by global climate models, and is consistent with projections based on manmade global warming.

The year-to-date is running warmer than average, but not record warm, as the first eight months of 2012 tied with 2006 as the ninth warmest such period on record. If Pacific Ocean temperatures continue to warm in response to the growing El Niño, then the year may end up warmer than temperatures so far would suggest.

For the U.S., though, the year to date has been the warmest such period on record, following the third-warmest summer and warmest spring since records began in 1895.

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Andrew Freedman, Climate Central

Andrew Freedman is a senior science writer for Climate Central, focusing on coverage of extreme weather and climate change. Prior to working with Climate Central, Freedman was a reporter for Congressional Quarterly and Greenwire/E&E Daily. His work has also appeared in the Washington Post and online at The Weather Channel Interactive and washingtonpost.com, where he writes a weekly climate science column for the "Capital Weather Gang" blog. He holds a Masters in Climate and Society from Columbia University and a Masters in Law and Diplomacy from The Fletcher School at Tufts University.

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