On April 22, 2011, Texas Governor Rick Perry, who has resisted the science of man-made global warming, led the state in prayer: "I, Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, under the authority vested in me by the Constitution and Statutes of the State of Texas, do hereby proclaim the three-day period from Friday, April 22, 2011, to Sunday, April 24, 2011, as Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of Texas."
Prayer can't hurt, and it surely won't stop the rain. But Texas is getting close to the point where it will require a miracle of global politics and coordination to avoid summers like 2011 in the future.
For the most part, scientists are loathe to pin specific weather events -- hurricanes, droughts, floods -- to human-induced climate change. More than loathe, actually. "Statistical nonesense" was the way MIT atmospheric scientist Kerry Emanuel characterized such claims in 2005.
But James Hansen disagrees. In a recent column for the New York Times, Hansen wrote that "we can say with high confidence that the recent heat waves in Texas and Russia, and the one in Europe in 2003, which killed tens of thousands, were not natural events -- they were caused by human-induced climate change."
Zooming in on the United States with four charts dated 1934 (top left), 1936 (bottom left), 2006 (top right) and 2011, we see this: