Extreme Weather: Hotter than July
Last Update: Aug 1, 2022
I would like to unseat my good friend, Jeff Brown momentarily as the house “meteorologist” and write about the heatwaves we have been experiencing in our cities and communities!
Every part of the United States of America and Europe has experienced an astronomical rise in temperature this past month. A heatwave has been rolling across the US pushing temperatures to triple digits in most places with attendant sweltering heat.
According to data from the National Center for Environmental Information at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric administration ( NOAA ) “ More than 7 percent of the earth’s surface experienced new, mean monthly temperature records this June meaning that the average temperature was the highest for the respective time and location ever recorded.
Even U.K. was not spared of the heatwave.
What is the cause of the spike in temperature?
Simply put, global warming is responsible for the rise in temperature. Human activities have been the main driver of climate change primarily due to burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas giving rise to carbon emissions into the atmosphere.They act as a blanket making the earth warmer than it should otherwise be.
What are the implications of the sudden spike in temperature?
The implications are dire. An exposure to extreme heat can give rise to heat stress which can lead to illnesses like heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat exhaustion can cause dizziness, a weak pulse, nausea and fainting. Heat stroke is similar to a heart attack which affects the blood vessels in the brain instead of the heart.
Periods of extended high temperatures can lead to increased cardiovascular and respiratory mortality as well as heart attack.
Individuals with pre-existing medical conditions, the young, the elderly, construction and agricultural workers who work mostly outside in the sun are vulnerable to physical harm from the sun.
Animals have been forced out of their natural habitats by the overpowering heat from the sun. Stories abound of bears and foxes roaming around people’s backyards rummaging for food in their trash cans, and in some cases making away with their domestic animals.
There has been cases of flash flooding of our cities. The convectional, torrential rains caused by the extreme heat combines with the excess water from the melting snow from mountain tops to flood underlying cities and pose a danger to people and animals. Kentucky state is currently experiencing over flooding and 37 people have been declared dead.
The extreme heat makes the vegetation drier and ready tinder to start fires. As I write, California is embroiled in an escalating Oak fires near Yosemite. It has burned 16,791 acres so far and is only 40% contained. Last year there were 9,260 fires in California and a whopping 2,333,666 acres of land were burned.
What can we do to prevent the dire consequences of extreme weather?
From a macro level, climate change is a global problem so it makes sense to tackle it from a global perspective. Going back to the Paris Agreement which binds nations to specific standards of gas emission makes a lot of sense to me. I know that some countries have not stuck to those standards and the organization has little or no means of enforcing such standards on members.
The Paris Agreement prescribes keeping global warming below 3.6 degree Fahrenheit. That is slightly more than a third of our current 10 degree Fahrenheit standard. But how many countries would enforce these standards? Quite a number of countries feel it is not in their national interest to follow the Paris Agreement guidelines.
From a micro level, we can all contribute to keeping global warming down by becoming more energy-efficient. Wind and solar energy are more viable alternatives to electricity. Electric cars are efficient alternatives to gasoline run cars with their gas emission. Mercifully, the price of electric cars is plummeting with more car manufacturing companies coming into the electric car market.
Simple practices like carpooling with co-workers and using paper bags to bag our groceries instead of plastic ones are steps in the right direction
The big question is how many of us do engage in such energy-efficient ways to reverse the global warming trend? Is the number enough to even make a dent?
Isn’t it ironical that some practices we engage in to cope with excess heat like air conditioning contributes to global warming?