Washington Daybook: Heating Up

Photograph by Damian Dovarganes/AP Photo

Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity members celebrate the landing of Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., on Aug. 5, 2012.

NASA’s Curiosity rover descended safely through the Martian atmosphere, a plunge labeled “7 Minutes of Terror,” and touched down early this morning at a site called Gale Crater to begin its up to two-year mission to determine whether Mars has an environment that can support life.

The environment back here on Earth is the subject of much scrutiny in Washington today. The drought in Texas last year and a heat wave in Russia are among weather extremes that “certainly would not have occurred” without global warming, according to a paper released by a NASA top climate scientist. James Hansen was one of the first to identify threats from climate change, and to advocate for action to counter carbon-dioxide emissions.

Speaking of heating up, the U.S. Dept. Of Agriculture issues its latest crop reports for domestic corn and soybean fields, where conditions have deteriorated for eight straight weeks because of a Midwest heatwave and drought. Conditions are the worst they’ve been since 1988.

And the Environmental Working Group and Defenders of Wildlife release a report showing the impacts of high crop price and, unlimited crop insurance subsidies on wetlands, grasslands and wildlife.

Jim O’Connell contributed to this post

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