As London broils in 34°C heat today, New Republic's Emily Atkin asks, "Why are some major news outlets still covering extreme weather like it's an act of God?"
The science is clear: Heat-trapping greenhouse gases have artificially increased the average temperature across the globe, making extreme heat events more likely. This has also increased the risk of frequent and more devastating wildfires, as prolonged heat dries soil and turns vegetation into tinder.
And yet, despite these facts, there’s no climate connection to be found in much news coverage of extreme weather events across the globe—even in historically climate-conscious outlets like NPR and The New York Times. These omissions, critics say, can affect how Americans view global warming and its impact on their lives.
Meanwhile, the Guardian (who, one hopes, have air conditioning in their offices) are reporting that 87% of the earth's oceans have human-caused damage.
London has very few air conditioners compared with North American cities, because the 30°C temperatures they've got right now happen so rarely it hasn't made a lot of sense to install them. But this heat wave is different:
The average July high in Stockholm, for example, is usually 23°C; this week, temperatures will crest 32°C, and there are 21 wildfires currently blazing across Sweden during its worst drought in 74 years. Some municipalities have resorted to sending leaflets to older residents to give them tips on how to manage the heat. Hospitals are shipping in otherwise rarely needed air conditioning units. Swimmers might be tempting to cool off in the city’s many waterways, but hot weather has caused giant algae blooms to appear within the Stockholm Archipelago, making the water unhealthy to swim in.
In the UK, severe dry conditions have also fed wildfires. Earlier this month, a large section of the grassy meadows at Wanstead Flats, on London’s eastern edge, burnt to ash—only to reignite again during another fire yesterday. This summer parts of the London region have received only six percent of their normal rainfall, leaving parks brown and reservoirs dry.
Parts of the UK may hit 36°C later this week, with torrential downpours predicted for Friday—a recipe for flash floods and massive property damage:
Several places have now had 54 consecutive dry days – meaning less than 1mm of rain – stretching back to 30 May, the longest spell since 1969 when 70 days passed with no significant rainfall, according to the Met Office.
The longest run of days with no rain at all this summer is 48 at Brooms Barn, near Bury St Edmunds.
A Met Office spokesman said: “For the UK as a whole we’ve only seen about 20% of the rainfall we’d normally expect throughout the whole summer. Parts of southern England have seen only 6%.”
Several longtime Daily Parker readers live in or are this week visiting the UK. Guys: how bad is it where you are? I'll be in the Big Stink on August 31st to find out for myself. I hope it's not as grim by then.
I've finally gotten around to extending the historical weather feature in Weather Now. Now, you can get any archival report that the system has, back to 2013. (I have many more archival reports from before then but they're not online.)
For example, here's the last time I arrived in London, or the time I took an amazing photo in Hermosa Beach, Calif.
I don't know why it took me so long to code this feature. It only took about 4 hours, including testing. And it also led me to fix a bug that has been in the feature since 2008.
A predicted consequence of anthropogenic climate change is that the air won't cool as quickly overnight, leading to ever-increasing temperatures overall. It's happening, and it's dangerous:
Nationwide, summer nights have warmed at nearly twice the rate of days, with overnight low temperatures increasing 0.8°C per century since 1895, when national temperature records began, compared to a daytime high increase of 0.4°C per century. (Nights have warmed faster than days during other seasons, too.)
While warm summer nights may seem less concerning than scorching afternoons, “the combination of high daytime and high nighttime temperatures can be really lethal because the body doesn’t have a chance to cool down during the nighttime hours,” said Lara Cushing, professor of environmental epidemiology at San Francisco State University.
Those risks are higher in places where temperatures have historically been cooler, like coastal California. There people are less physiologically acclimated (the body can get used to higher temperatures up to a point) and less behaviorally adapted to hot weather.
“A hundred and five degrees in San Francisco is going to have a bigger impact probably than 105 degrees in Houston, Tex., where everybody has air conditioning and people are accustomed to dealing with high temperatures,” Dr. Cushing said.
Older people, the sick, and young children are especially at risk. So are agricultural, construction and other outdoor workers, who can no longer avoid the heat by shifting their hours to work earlier or later in the day. Similarly, homeless people who bear the full brunt of the elements get little relief.
Never mind the rest of the local environment. Slower overnight cooling puts stress on plants as well.
You can get sunrise info for any location on earth (just not quite as pretty) at Weather Now.
Back in June 2016, I walked 29 km in one go, and posted "I don't need to do this ever again."
You can see where this is going.
Here's what I did yesterday:
That distance, 32.2 km, is exactly 20 miles. I actually walked about 800 m farther than that because I accidentally paused my Fitbit for a few minutes. Also, the map's big red 32.16 km (which is just short of 20 miles) appears to be a rounding error as you can see from the official total at the top.
This time I walked up the North Branch trail, and I'm proud to say I walked the entire length of the Red Path, from Gompers Park in Chicago up to the Skokie Lagoons Trail in Glencoe. It's shadier, and leafier, and doesn't parallel a working railroad. I mean, you don't meet this guy on the Green Bay trail, for example:
The weather was nearly perfect: 25°C under crystal-clear skies. (I might have done better a few degrees cooler.)
And now for my personal records (PRs):
- Farthest distance in one continuous walk: 32.2 km
- Most steps in one continuous walk: 36,942
- Longest continuous exercise (including biking): 5 hours, 15 minutes
- Most steps in one day: 47,452
- Farthest walked in one day: 41.09 km
- Most active minutes in one day: 520
Depending on the weather, on Thursday I expect to hit another PR: most steps in a 7-day period. Currently that's 147,941 (set February 27th), but the 7 days ending yesterday totaled only 144,651.
My top-5 single-day step records are now:
Also, not for nothing, I am kind of annoyed with myself that I didn't sucker any of my friends into a step challenge this weekend.
That's my guess for how often Chicago's weather looks like this. Today's forecast calls for cloudless 23°C skies and a cool, clear evening.
So, naturally, I'm going to try to walk 30 klicks.
And I'm totally not watching the England/Sweden match that's on right now. Nope.
Large areas of the planet are experiencing record heat this week, as predicted by the anthropogenic climate change hypothesis:
No single record, in isolation, can be attributed to global warming. But collectively, these heat records are consistent with the kind of extremes we expect to see increase in a warming world.
As we reported, Quriyat, Oman, posted the world’s hottest low temperature ever recorded on June 28: 109 degrees (42.6 Celsius).
That's right; in Oman overnight on June 28th, it never got below a potentially lethal temperature.
It's beginning to look a little like Christmas...on Venus.
I'll have an update to the semi-annual Chicago Sunrise Chart later this week, but otherwise not a lot to post about. Or, anyway, that I want to post about.
At least the weather cooled off. We finished June hot and sticky but yesterday a cold front brought delightful summer weather to the city. It's predicted to last about another four minutes.
It's gloomy, foggy, rainy, and not all that warm today, so I'm doing very little of value. I'll probably do something of value tomorrow, though.