Extreme Heat

The dark red colors on yesterday’s weather map of the Pacific Northwest exemplified the harrowing tale of climate change, with several states and part of Canada, setting new records for extreme heat under what is called a ‘heat dome.’

One recent tweet included this comment: “The normal late June high in Vancouver BC is 21°C (70°F). This heat wave will be 25°C (45°F) hotter than that.” You heard or read that right, 45- degrees Fahrenheit hotter than normal. Sure enough, the eastern Cascades may reach 118- degrees Fahrenheit today!

As former Steelers radio announcer Myron Cope would say, “Yoi and Double Yoi!”

Even more shocking than this extreme heat wave was hearing one of our township’s college- educated councilmen make some ridiculous offhand remark last night, something like, “if you believe in climate change.” Really? Hopefully, I misunderstood what sounded like a really stupid statement. Even though he’s an attorney, maybe he never fully examined all the climate change evidence.

You really have to ask yourself how much evidence climate deniers need before they change their minds, or drop their “party line.” You’d think with ocean rise, increasingly intense storms, flooding, and bizarre “heat domes” like the Pacific Northwest is experiencing now, it would be more than enough.

The best explanation I’ve heard for many of these unusual weather events in our changing climate, is that the jet stream, which used to move storms across the United States in good fashion, has become adversely affected, becoming more “jagged and kinked” when drawn on a map, as opposed to the former smoothly curved lines. It’s a complex set of issues of course, involving far more than just the jet stream.

Let’s look at some illustrations and data compiled by the Climate Reality Project, first with this chart showing our steady upward temperature rise since 1980:

Here’s another chart, dating back to 1880:

Unfortunately, and especially for California and the Pacific Northwest, this extreme heat worsens the number of large forest fires, as seen here:

Some people try to hang on to the idea that climate change isn’t at all “manmade” but that weak argument melts quickly when we see this graph, titled “The Largest Source of Global Warming Pollution is the Burning of Fossil Fuels” showing how our use of fossil fuels clearly matches the rise in temperatures on the images above:

Unfortunately, it looks like our record breaking temperature pattern is going to continue, unless we take serious climate action. This image points out how “19 of the 20 Hottest Years on Record Have Occurred Since the Year 2001.”

Then we look at the role our oceans are playing in this graph about “Global Ocean Heat Content” which goes even further, to point out that “Half of this (water temperature) increase has occurred in less than twenty years.” Warmer oceans intensify hurricanes, while warmer air holds more moisture, which is a deadly combination for many:

Most people aren’t aware of what this final image points out, “The same extra heat that evaporates more water from the ocean, causing bigger downpours and floods, pulls moisture even more quickly from the soil, causing longer and deeper droughts“:

If that isn’t enough, imagine losing 50- percent of all land- based species in this century!

This all brings to mind that old expression, “Going to Hell in a Handbasket.”

P.S. What can you do? “Join those who are using their voices, their votes, their choices, to fight the climate crisis!”

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