The Heat Waves Keep on Com­ing and Are Get­ting Worse

Traveling Minds - - Table Of Contents -

Fargo, North Dakota, heated up to 106 de­grees on July 5, one of the hottest ever on record. It was not alone.

That the Earth is get­ting hot­ter than ever is not in dispute (ex­cept per­haps in an ivory tower some­where on the White House grounds). What has made this year’s tem­per­a­tures more no­table is not just the mag­ni­tude of the heat, but also how wide­spread it is.

As of late May 2017, the same ex­treme bands of heat hit si­mul­ta­ne­ously across the south­west­ern United States (Cal­i­for­nia, Ne­vada and Arizona), in Western Europe, North Africa, the Mid­dle East and south-cen­tral Asia. In do­ing so, it blew out past tem­per­a­ture records across all those re­gions, with num­bers as much as two de­grees Fahren­heit hot­ter than any­thing be­fore.

Among the records was the 128.3o F heat recorded in Tur­bat, Pak­istan. It was a value so hot it will go down – for a year at least – as the warmest May tem­per­a­ture ever recorded any­where on Earth. On a coun­try ba­sis, Pak­istan and Oman tied their pre­vi­ous all-time highs, while Nor­way, Iran and Aus­tria hit new highs never pre­vi­ously ob­served in those coun­tries.

In June the heat wave con­tin­ued. Viet­nam reached a tem­per­a­ture of 108o F on June 4th, the high­est ever for the Hanoi Re­gion. Then on June 29 the vil­lage of Tur­bat, Pak­istan, reached an of­fi­cial tem­per­a­ture of 126o F It too was a record, the high­est-ever June value recorded any­where in Asia. The high heat is also be­hind why in the mid­dle of June Por­tu­gal had one of its worst-ever for­est fires, Siberia had many fires burn­ing si­mul­ta­ne­ously, and Chile ex­pe­ri­enced its worst for­est fires in his­tory.

Ac­cord­ing to the Pots­dam In­sti­tute for Cli­mate Im­pact Re­search, a Ger­man think-tank which stud­ies cli­mate change and its im­pacts, among other things, this is only the be­gin­ning of our col­lec­tive su­per­heat­ing night­mare. Ac­cord­ing to the In­sti­tute’s Ste­fan Rahm­storf in a re­cent in­ter­view, by 2040 – the same time a child born to­day will be grad­u­at­ing from col­lege – “we will see about 12 times more monthly heat records than in a sta­ble cli­mate, not just five times as in re­cent years”.

The rea­son, Rahm­storf went on, is not just the pres­ence of green­house gas emis­sions like CO2. It is that the car­bon diox­ide in­crease is ac­tu­ally slow­ing the jet stream. Do­ing so makes the stream more wavy, which then helps drive mas­sive heat waves across a re­gion. In time, un­less global warm­ing some­how hits a brick wall well be­low the Paris Cli­mate Agree­ment tar­get of 2 de­grees Cel­sius, “large parts of Spain and Por­tu­gal will turn into desert”. Re­lated pre­dic­tions point to the un­in­hab­it­abil­ity of ma­jor ar­eas of the Mid­dle East in only a hand­ful of years, as even the tem­per­a­tures in the shade will be too hot for a hu­man be­ing to with­stand sim­ply by sweat­ing alone to cool them.

Of spe­cial con­cern, in a re­cent study by the World Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Or­ga­ni­za­tion, are the in­creas­ing break­ing of high tem­per­a­ture records at high el­e­va­tions, such as what hap­pened in the Alps al­ready this sum­mer. With the moun­tains warmer, once well-pro­tected glaciers will be­gin to melt, which will speed fur­ther cli­mate im­pacts rapidly.

It is not clear how to get the at­ten­tion of the lead­ers of the world and those run­ning the U.S. ex­ec­u­tive branch, most of whom are un­in­tel­li­gent so­ciopaths who can't see past their own per­sonal short-term en­rich­ment by cor­po­rate crim­i­nal spon­sors.

Im­age by Vin­cent Brassinne, CC

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