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Record High Temperatures Prevail As Heat Dome Spreads Across The US

Record High Temperatures Prevail As Heat Dome Spreads Across The Us

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There is a story running in The Guardian right now with this headline: “Millions Face Record High Temperatures As Heat Dome Intensifies Over US.” The subhead says “Cities in midwest and northeast brace for heatwave with some to experience highs of 105F — 25 degrees above normal.” The story goes to great lengths to detail how 265 million Americans will be affected by the unusually high temperatures. I am known for having very poor math skills, but Google tells me 265 million is 78.8941158% of all the people living in the US.

What struck me as odd about The Guardian story is that nowhere in a story that says 79% of US citizens will experience much higher than normal temperatures did it mention the dreaded words “climate change” or “global heating.” There was no discussion of rising carbon dioxide and methane levels in the atmosphere, heat waves in oceans that threaten marine life. melting ice caps, raging forest fires, massive droughts, or catastrophic floods. How is that possible? Is The Guardian so afraid of right wing extremists that it dares not raise the topic of human-caused changes to the environment? Are 79% of Americans so clueless that the prospect of temperatures 25° F hotter than normal at this time of year — or any other time of year — evokes no reaction other than a concern about the utility bill going up because the air conditioning system will be working harder this month?

A Color-Coded Temperature Guide

An upper level ridge of high pressure known as a heat dome is expected to bring recordbreaking temperatures in the 90s to much of the country by this weekend. A heat dome is a ridge of high pressure that traps warm air beneath it and blocks milder weather systems from moving through. The current heat dome has been building in intensity in the Ohio valley and lower Great Lakes, and is now forecast to move east northeast over the next several days. Even in eastern states that border the Atlantic ocean such as Maine, forecasters have said they expect record hot overnight temperatures and daytime highs well into the 90s.

The National Weather Service station in Caribou, Maine, said temperatures there would soar “under an anomalously upper level high pressure system” and “multiple days of record breaking temperatures will lead to dangerous heat without a chance for reprieve overnight.” Forecasters in Boston said that temperatures touching 100º F “would challenge all time record highs for the month of June.” Some areas will experience temperatures as high as 105 º F (40.5º C), which is 25º F above normal. Cities forecast to be hit by the heatwave include Chicago, St Louis, Indianapolis, Detroit, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Boston, New York, and Albany.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Weather Service recently introduced a color and number based HeatRisk index system to provide risk guidance for decision makers and heat sensitive populations. The index takes into consideration how unusual the heat is for the time of year, the duration of the heat including both daytime and nighttime temperatures, and whether those temperatures pose an elevated risk of heat related impacts. The index is showing magenta-colored “extreme” health risk levels moving from the Midwest and Ohio Valley to the northeast between now and this weekend. “This level of rare and/or long duration extreme heat with little to no overnight relief affects anyone without effective cooling and/or adequate hydration.” The record high temperatures are most likely to affect “health systems, heat sensitive industries,  and infrastructure,” the index warns.

Record Temperatures Get A Big Yawn From Americans

It’s going to be 25 degrees hotter than normal and all people can do is shrug and say, ‘Well, what can you do?” No one is asking why it will be so hot? There are no college protests demanding answers and solutions? No speeches in Congress? Has everyone lost their mind? The situation feels like the plot of the movie Don’t Look Up!, which tried to use satire to blast us out of our comfort zone and force us to see what is going on right outside our windows.

When that movie came out two years ago, a writer I hold in the highest esteem wrote that it skewers those who say climate change is a hoax, a passing fad, a fiction cooked up by an hysterical teenager from Sweden, or nothing more than normal climactic changes that occur on Earth all the time. The brain child of Adam McKay, the movie features an all-star cast, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, and Meryl Streep, along with a host of other Hollywood A-list actors.

The movie is simplistic in the extreme. An astronomer discovers an enormous asteroid heading straight toward Earth. She and her colleague try to warn the world that there is a 99.7% chance that when it hits, the Earth will be destroyed. You would have to have the intellect of a sea slug not to make the connection that 99.7% happens to be the same percentage of scientists who agree that climate change is happening and is caused in large measure by human activity.

In fact, only a sea slug would miss the point of the movie, which is that the asteroid is a metaphor for climate change. The movie beats the viewer over the head with that message and some viewers may find the message more heavyhanded than necessary. They have a point. There is nothing subtle about what the producers and the actors want us to learn from watching the film.

One person who is paying attention is Dr. Erica Smithwick, a heat expert at Penn State and a member of Science Moms, a group of scientists and mothers whose mission is to demystify climate change, talk honestly about its effects, and protect future generations from the ravages of a hotter planet. Her organization says there has always had extreme weather, but human-caused climate change is making it a lot worse. Heatwaves are now longer, hotter, and more frequent. More of our rain comes in the form of torrential downpours that can lead to flooding. Hurricanes are stronger, intensify more rapidly, and deliver heavier rain. Wildfires burn larger areas and their season has expanded. Unless we stop emitting heat-trapping carbon pollution, these extreme events will keep getting worse.

In an email to CleanTechnica, Dr. Smithwick said, “Climate change is turbocharging heat waves and children are especially vulnerable to dehydration and heat stroke. As millions of people experience sweltering temperatures this week, families should take precautions to ensure their kids get plenty of sunscreen, water, and indoor cooling time. At Science Moms, we provide resources for staying safe during extreme weather events and steps we can all take to protect the planet for our children.” We encourage our readers to visit the Science Moms website to learn more about the work it is doing. You may find information there that will help you talk intelligently with your family and friends about how and why our planet is getting hotter.

High Temperatures Infuriate Republicans

The threat of climate change is now too obvious to ignore, so Republicans have invented a dastardly little game to  deflect our attention away from the issue. The object of the game is to convince people to ignore rising temperatures by getting them to focus on something else — THEM! Their scenarios are filled with scary stores of migrants, uppity women, ungrateful college students, or some government cabal known as the “deep state.” Their idea is to take America backward to simpler time when father knew best, women couldn’t vote but were welcome to cook and have babies, and people of color sat quietly in the back of the bus. If we just go back to those simpler times, the climate emergency will simply go away, or so they would have us believe.

A majority of Republican-controlled states have reacted to the threat of higher temperatures from global heating by passing laws prohibiting state agencies from doing business with banks and investment firms that pursue ESG policies. Some have banned companies from giving their employees water breaks, even when the threat of heatstroke and other heat related issues is highest. Rotten Ron DeSantis has recently used his position as the so-called governor of Florida — the state most threatened by rising sea levels — to prohibit references to “climate change” in any official state communications.

Americans have a chance to vote this fall. When they do, they may want to consider which candidate is more likely to address the threat of rising temperatures — the one whose policies address the climate crisis directly or the one who promises to ignore it and turbocharge the destruction on the Earth as a place where humans who are not billionaires can survive. Please vote responsibly.


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