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The New York Times reported that 2012 was the hottest year on record for the United States. A report released Tuesday by NOAA reported the average temperature was a full degree Fahrenheit higher than the previous record, set in 1998. Over the course of the year, 34,008 daily high records were set at weather stations across the country. The increase of one full degree is significant because prior to 2012, the difference between the coldest year on record (1917) and the warmest year on record (1998) was only 4.2 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition to being the warmest year, 2012 was also the second “most extreme,” as measured by the Climate Extremes Index. Scientists have surmised the record-breaking year is partially due to natural variability and partially due to human release of greenhouse gases. Huffington Post reported that despite being a historical year for weather, U.S. news coverage on climate change decreased in 2012. According to an analysis by Media Matters, Sunday news talk shows on ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX spent fewer than eight minutes on climate change in 2012 in the midst of an election year. Just three years ago, the topic received over an hour of coverage.
In other sustainability news, GreenBiz highlighted Walmart as a company who is actively helping their employees achieve sustainability in their own lives—both environmental sustainability and personal health. Walmart started a personal sustainability initiative for their employees in 2007 and within the first few years, the company reported 20,000 U.S. associates quit smoking; recycled three million pounds of plastic; and as a group, shed a collective 184,000 pounds from their bodies. The program, My Sustainability Plan, not only has measurable results, but also helps employees feel engaged in their communities and at their workplace. In 2010, Walmart pledged to offer royalty-free licenses to any organization interested in creating their own MSP. To date over 35 organizations have utilized the license.