EARTH’S HEATWAVES SIGNAL A BURNING PLANET ~ Why is Climate Crisis Getting Worse?

by admin on June 19, 2022

Some locations are at extreme temperatures worldwide

Climate change has meant that heatwaves ‘have increased in frequency, intensity and duration across the world’

From an Article by Fiona Harvey in UK, Ashifa Kassam in Madrid, Nina Lakhani in Phoenix, and Amrit Dhillon in New Delhi, The Guardian UK, June 18, 2022

In March, the north and south poles had record temperatures. In May in Delhi, it hit 49C (120F). Last week in Madrid, 40C (104F). Experts say the worst effects of the climate emergency cannot be avoided if emissions continue to rise.

When the temperature readings started to come through from Antarctic weather stations in early March, scientists at first thought there might have been some mistake. Temperatures, which should have been cooling rapidly as the south pole’s brief summer faded, were soaring – at the Vostok station, about 800 miles from the geographic south pole, thermometers recorded a massive 15C hotter than the previous all-time record, while at Terra Nova coastal base the water hovered above freezing, unheard of for the time of year.

“Wow. I have never seen anything like this,” ice scientist Ted Scambos, of the University of Colorado, told the Associated Press.

But that was not all. At the north pole, similarly unusual temperatures were also being recorded, astonishing for the time of year when the Arctic should be slowly emerging from its winter deep freeze. The region was more than 3C warmer than its long-term average, researchers said.
To induce a heatwave at one pole may be regarded as a warning; heatwaves at both poles at once start to look a lot like climate catastrophe.

Since then, weather stations around the world have seen their mercury rising like a global Mexican wave.

A heatwave struck India and Pakistan in March, bringing the highest temperatures in that month since records began 122 years ago. Scorching weather has continued across the subcontinent, wreaking disaster for millions. Spring was more like midsummer in the US, with soaring temperatures across the country in May. Spain saw the mercury hit 40C in early June as a heatwave swept across Europe, hitting the UK last week.

Scientists have been able quickly to prove that these record-breaking temperatures are no natural occurrence. A study published last month showed that the south Asian heatwave was made 30 times more likely to happen by human influence on the climate.

Vikki Thompson, climate scientist at the University of Bristol’s Cabot Institute, explained: “Climate change is making heatwaves hotter and last longer around the world. Scientists have shown that many specific heatwaves are more intense because of human-induced climate change. The climate change signal is even detectable in the number of deaths attributed to heatwaves.”

Friederike Otto, senior lecturer in climate science at the Grantham Institute, Imperial College London, said heatwaves in Europe alone had increased in frequency by a factor of 100 or more, caused by human actions in pouring greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. “Climate change is a real game changer when it comes to heatwaves: they have increased in frequency, intensity and duration across the world,” she said.

This type of heat poses a serious threat to human health, directly as it puts stress on our bodies, and indirectly as it damages crops, causes wildfires and even harms our built environment, such as roads and buildings. Poor people suffer most, as they are the ones out in fields or in factories, or on the street without shelter in the midst of the heat, and they lack the luxury of air-conditioning when they get home.

Air-conditioning itself is a further facet of the problem: its growing use and massive energy consumption threatens to accelerate greenhouse gas emissions, just as we need urgently to bring them down. Radhika Khosla, associate professor at the Smith School at the University of Oxford, said: “The global community must commit to sustainable cooling, or risk locking the world into a deadly feedback loop, where demand for cooling energy drives further greenhouse gas emissions and results in even more global warming.”

There are ways to reduce the impacts for individuals, and to adapt our cities. Painting roofs white in hot countries to reflect the sun’s rays, growing ivy on walls in more temperate regions, planting trees for shade, fountains and more green areas in cities can all help. More heavy-duty adaptation measures include changing the materials we use for buildings, transport networks and other vital infrastructure, to stop windows falling out of their frames, roads from melting in the heat and rails from buckling.

But these measures can only ever be a sticking plaster – only drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions will prevent climate chaos. The current heatwaves are happening as the earth has warmed by about 1.2C above pre-industrial levels – nations agreed, at the Cop26 UN climate summit last November, to try not to let them rise by more than 1.5C. Beyond that, the changes to the climate will be too great to overcome with shady trees or white roofs, and at 2C an estimated 1 billion people will suffer extreme heat. “We cannot adapt our way out of the climate crisis,” Katharine Hayhoe, chief scientist for the Nature Conservancy, told the Observer. “If we continue with business-as-usual greenhouse gas emissions, there is no adaptation that is possible. You just can’t.”

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Duane Nichols June 20, 2022 at 8:50 pm

‘Marker of climate change’: Europe swelters in record-breaking June heatwave, FRANCE 24 News Service, June 18, 2022.

“Spain, France and other western European nations on Saturday sweltered under a blistering June heatwave that has sparked forest fires and concerns that such early summer blasts of hot weather will now become the norm.”


Grim Reaper June 20, 2022 at 8:55 pm

In Jacobabad, One of the Hottest Cities on the Planet, a Heat Wave Is Pushing the Limits of Human Livability. Inside Climate News, Zoha Tunio, June 20, 2022

Temperatures in this landlocked city in Pakistan’s Sindh Province crossed 100 degrees for 51 straight days in March, and reached 123.8 degrees earlier last month.


Duane Nichols June 20, 2022 at 9:05 pm

At least 59 dead and millions stranded as floods devastate India and Bangladesh | India | The Guardian, June 18, 2022

At least 59 people died as floods cut a swatch across north-eastern India and Bangladesh, leaving millions of homes underwater, authorities said on Saturday.

In India’s Assam state, 18 people died in the floods or landslides and 2 million others had seen their homes submerged in flood waters since Thursday, the state disaster management agency said.

Lightning strikes triggered by the storms had killed at least 21 people in Bangladesh since Friday afternoon, police officials said. Among them were three children aged 12 to 14 who were struck in the rural town of Nandail, local police chief Mizanur Rahman said.

Another four people were killed when landslides hit their hillside homes in the port city of Chattogram (formerly known as Chittagong), police inspector Nurul Islam said.

Both countries have asked the military to help with the severe flooding, which could worsen because rains were expected to continue over the weekend.

The Brahmaputra – one of Asia’s largest rivers – breached its mud embankments, inundating 3,000 villages and croplands in 28 of Assam’s 33 districts.

“We expect moderate to heavy rainfall in several parts of Assam till Sunday,” said Sanjay O’Neil, an official at the meteorological station in Gauhati, Assam’s capital. “The volume of rainfall has been unprecedented.”


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