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It's a Summer of Record Heat, Drought, and Wildfires

California is in the middle of its worst drought in decades.

Justin Sullivan/Getty

Feeling hot? It's not just the time of year and it's not just you. Yesterday scientists announced that June was the world's warmest on record. And it came right after the warmest May ever:

June hottest temperature

Right now, western U.S. is breaking a lot of new records of its own. Washington is battling its largest wildfire in its history. Meanwhile, California is in the middle of its driest year in history, which has already cost the state $2.2 billion in losses.

California has likewise responded with some unprecedented tactics: The state has asked residents to reduce their water intake by 20 percent, while approving its first fine for water wasters who excessively use water for their lawns. The drought has also pitted agriculture against the oil and gas industry. Heeding public concern that fracking risks contaminating underground aquifers, California’s Division of Oil and Gas and Geothermal Resources has ordered some companies to temporarily halt some operations.

All of these impacts emphasize the one thing each new report on climate change warns us about. This is what it looks like, now, not simply as an issue facing a future generation. Extreme weather is how people experience climate change at the local level, and there are steep prices to pay for recognizing that political action is needed. There is still a long way to go: According to Gallup, only 36 percent people see it posing a serious threat to their way of life, but that number has also increased over the last 17 years. Similarly, a Yale poll found the portion of Americans who think of global warming as a “right now” issue hovering around 32 percent.

pew climate polling

With more Americans exposed to extreme weather, that can change fast. The effects of climate change only get worse, and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration expects the same outlook for California this year:

drought future

Rebecca Leber

Things to know

IMMIGRATION: Texas Governor Rick Perry has ordered 1,000 National Guard troops to the border. It's unclear what the objective is given that most of the migrant children crossing the border are turning themselves in to authorities. (Manny Fernandez and Michael D. Shear, New York Times)

TAXES: A new Senate report finds that Barclays and Deutsche Bank helped hedge funds avoid nearly $6 billion in taxes. Congressional anger at corporate tax avoidance is growing fast. (Danielle Douglas, Washington Post)

Things to read

Poverty: Matt Bruenig explains how a $300 child allowance could cut child poverty in half. (Demos)

Health: Medicare Advantage is not efficient right now, but Austin Frakt explains how it can be. (New York Times)

What's the matter with Thomas Frank? Frank, author of the classic What's the Matter With Kansas, thinks Obama could have achieved a lot more if only he'd fought harder. (Salon) Kevin Drum and Ed Kilgore think Frank is borderline delusional. (Mother Jones, Washington Monthly)

Woo Hoo! The cable network FXX, which purchased exclusive rights to The Simpsons, is building a super-website that will allow users to watch whole episodes or just clips—and to search by everything from characters to themes to quotes. (Vox)

Things at QED

Hold the applause on Elizabeth Warren's Netroots speech. Those ideas are a bit stale, says Danny Vinik.