If you look at any meteorology map these days, you’ll notice a lot more pink and red (indicating high temperatures) than you’re probably accustomed to. Sure, it’s summer and it gets hot, but it’s only the beginning of July, and we still have the majority of the hottest weeks to go.
Over the past week particularly, temperatures have soared, breaking records in numerous cities and states. Mid-Atlantic residents are still recovering from a rare “derecho” storm that caused numerous high-powered thunderstorms and massive power outages across the region. The powerful storms killed 13 people and left millions without power as temperatures rose into the 90s and low 100s. Daniel Porter, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said “You could draw a line from Denver to St. Louis to Washington, D.C. All those areas are in the hundreds right now.” Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell also commented on the situation saying his state just suffered the largest “non-hurricane power outage” ever in its history.
Weather like this is extremely dangerous and many people still don’t realize the full impact severe heat can have, particularly on the sick and elderly. It’s critical to stay cool and hydrated as much as possible and to remain indoors, preferably in a cool and/or dark place and decrease strenuous physical activity. Heat stroke, exhaustion and dehydration are all too common in extreme heat, particularly in people who continue to act as they normally would in cooler temperatures.
While summer is supposed to be a hot time of year for much of the world, this type of summer weather is simply dangerous and is only predicted to become more commonplace moving forward. In fact, climate scientists have continuously warned that a warming planet will lead to more extreme temperature swings; for example, summers will become warmer and will last even longer.
Still, in light of all the data pointing to the obvious, the U.S. continues to remain predominately in denial about climate change. Using AC to stay cool in heat waves only perpetuates the issue, using more energy and therefore pumping more CO2 into the atmosphere. It’s a vicious cycle we’ve gotten ourselves into and each day we deny reality and take no significant action to abate climate change, the more we’ll face harsher, unbearable weather like we’re experiencing today. Are we ready?
Photo Credit: NASA Earth Observatory