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Climate Change

Baby, It’s HOT Outside! Heat Records Are Being Set Worldwide

Heat records are being set in the United States and around the world as average global temperatures continue to rise.

The Washington Post today has an article with details about the “heat dome” making its way across the United States from Southern California to Texas. High temperature records are being set in many US cities, where overnight temperatures of 100º F or more persist. Last Friday, daytime temperatures records were broken in Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Albuquerque, and Phoenix.

The National Weather Service in Phoenix described the heat as “extreme and deadly. With heat waves, the overnight temperatures are the most dangerous, as your body relies on cooler temperatures while it’s sleeping to recover. Without this cooling, your body is less equipped to handle the scorching daytime heat, leading to increased incidences of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.”

The persistent high temperatures are expected to move into the central part of the country during this coming week. “While some relief from the heat will arrive in parts of the Midwest and Ohio Valley later in the week, the responsible zone of high pressure, or heat dome, will return to the southern and central United States into next weekend. In other words, there is no end in sight to anomalously high temperatures occupying considerable parts of the country,” the Washington Post says.

Spain Experiencing Early Heat Wave

American Exceptionalism notwithstanding, other parts of the world are aslo experiencing heat waves. An anti-cyclone named Alex has brought punishing heat from North Africa to Spain. Heatwaves — officially defined as at least three consecutive days of temperatures above the average recorded for July and August from 1971-2000 — are becoming more frequent and are beginning earlier, according Aemet, the Spanish meteorological office. “We are facing unusually high temperatures for June,” Rubén del Campo, an Aemet spokesperson, tells The Guardian.

Aemet calculates that global heating means Spain’s summer begins between 20 and 40 days earlier than it did 50 years ago. There have been 10 June heat waves since 1975, 5 of them since 2011 and, assuming this one lasts three days, over the past 12 years there will have been a heatwave in June every two years. “For the first time we’ve seen eight consecutive years with above-average temperatures,” Del Campo says. “There is a clear trend towards things getting hotter.”

Nothing To See Here. Move Along

The last line of the Washington Post article is short and to the point. “Human-caused climate change is supercharging heat waves like this one, making them more intense and long-lived.” For CleanTechnica readers, that hardly seems controversial.

And yet, in the comments, one person wrote this: “A record temperature for that day is only a record for that day. I live in CA, in the areas mentioned. It was just a little hotter than usual. I have experienced numerous hotter days in my life. Yes, even 50 years ago. It does not require a fear article and then the typical political responses from both sides for or against climate change. This article is a joke. Especially invoking the last sentence.”

The poster got lots of support from others. “I agree. I live in Phoenix, and heat waves are nothing unusual, especially in June. So Friday and Saturday we beat the previous record by 1 degree. And this coming week we’re back where we are supposed to be, temperature wise.” Another person added, “June 26th 1990 was the hottest day ever recorded in Phoenix. The temperature was 122. we have not reached that again since, but anything is possible. Phoenix is hot in the summer, that’s just the way it is.”

The inference to be drawn from these comments is that there have always been hot days. The news media is just focusing on these record temperatures to sell a few more newspapers. The message is there’s nothing to see here, folks. There is no climate emergency and nothing to worry about. It is hot now but will be cooler later.

Perhaps as human beings, we are simply incapable of recognizing long term trends? Texas this week set a record for electricity use, surpassing the previous record of 74.8 GW set in August 2019. Despite Texas having an abundance of renewable energy, much of it from wind turbines, it still gets nearly two-thirds of its electricity from thermal generators that burn methane or coal, both or which are responsible for massive carbon emissions that make the environment ever hotter.

How hot is too hot? Will it be too hot when all the polar ice caps and glaciers have melted? Will it be too hot when most of the world’s major cities are underwater? Will it be too hot when large swathes of land that used to produce the crops we need to feed ourselves are barren? Will it be too hot when there is no water left to drink for million of people?

The climate apocalypse is coming. A half a degree here, a quarter of a degree there. Eventually, large tracts of the Earth will no longer be able to support human life. It is astonishing how many people seem to be OK with that.

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Written By

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."


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