“From the normally mild summer climes of Ireland, Scotland and Canada to the scorching Middle East to Southern California, numerous locations in the Northern Hemisphere have witnessed their hottest weather ever recorded over the past week.
Large areas of heat pressure or heat domes scattered around the hemisphere led to the sweltering temperatures. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reports the heat is to blame for at least 54 deaths in southern Quebec, mostly in and near Montreal, which endured record high temperatures.
In Northern Siberia, along the coast of the Arctic Ocean – where weather observations are scarce – model analyses showed temperatures soaring 40 degrees above normal on July 5, to over 90 degrees. “It is absolutely incredible and really one of the most intense heat events I’ve ever seen for so far north,” wrote meteorologist Nick Humphrey, who offers more detail on this extraordinary high-latitude hot spell on his blog.
On Thursday, Africa likely witnessed its hottest temperature ever reliably measured. Ouargla, Algeria soared to 124.3 degrees (51.3 Celsius). If verified, it would surpass Africa’s previous highest reliable temperature measurement of 123.3 degrees (50.7 Celsius) set July 13, 1961, in Morocco.
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.
Let’s take a tour around the world of the recent hot-weather milestones.
A massive and intense heat dome has consumed the eastern two-thirds of the United States and southeast Canada since late last week. It’s not only been hot but also exceptionally humid. Here are some of the notable all-time records set:
The University of California Los Angeles set its all-time high-temperature of 111 degrees on July 6, along with several other locations in Southern California.
Denver tied its all-time high-temperature record of 105 degrees on June 28…
Montreal recorded its highest temperature in recorded history, dating back 147 years, of 97.9 degrees (36.6 Celsius) on July 2…”
-- Jason Samenow, “Red-hot planet: All-time heat records have been set all over the world during the past week,” Washington Post, July 5, 2018
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"Major corporate broadcast networks reported on July’s 2-week global heat wave at least 127 times, but mentioned climate change only once. That’s according to a report by Media Matters, which tracked coverage of the extreme weather by ABC, CBS and NBC." -- DemocracyNow.org, August 2, 2018.
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A few weeks ago I discussed the exceptionally wet week we’d just had, with an almost unheard of volume of rain for July -- a recent example of extreme weather.
I didn’t mention that heat records were broken around the world the same month. Locally that included the unbelievably hot & humid weather we had in early July.
Remember? But in other parts of the world the heat was not merely uncomfortable, but in some cases downright dangerous. Let’s hope we don’t have such heat here.
What’s unacceptable is the irresponsibility of the US media, with rare exceptions, in failing to report regularly on the role global warming plays in extreme weather. And the fact that more of the public doesn’t demand that something be done about it (like taking actions to phase out fossil fuels, difficult though that might be).
Yes, it’s impossible to blame particular extreme weather events solely on climate change. But the science is now so solid that no more time should be wasted on debating it, questioning it, or suggesting it’s controversial. It’s not anymore.
We can adapt to extreme weather, to an extent, and even enjoy being out in it at times (making sure we stay safe). But we also have an obligation to take care of this precious planet and assure that it remains a healthy place for all life to flourish.
-- Charlie Cook