People everywhere were beginning to seek relief Monday from a heat wave that will intensify over the next three days, with temperatures forecast to hit 105 degrees in some inland areas.
The worst heat will come Wednesday – the Fourth of July – says the National Weather Service. But by mid-afternoon Monday, the temperature had hit 99 in Mission Viejo and 96 in Placentia. In Palm Springs, it was 114.
The heat wave will be so oppressive the weather service has issued an "excessive heat" advisory for Wednesday and Thursday, meaning that temperatures will be high enough to cause heatstroke and dehydration.
Whoa! That's hot! But wait, why are we having more of these extreme heatwaves? We've had plenty of hot weather in Southern California before, but rarely this much reoccurring throughout the year. Wait, could this have something to do with it?
(Cross-posted at Calitics)
OK, OK, so we've heard all the rhetoric about climate change (aka global warming) causing more severe weather. We've heard all the warnings about future killer hurricanes, massive flooding, lethal heatwaves, and just all around more erratic weather. But wait, what if all of this severe weather isn't waiting for the future? What if we're experiencing the consequences of ignoring climate change now?
Remember seeing this in The Washington Post last August? Well, you should. Oh yes, and would you like some ice water to drink while reading this?
Heat waves like those that have scorched Europe and the United States in recent weeks are becoming more frequent because of global warming, say scientists who have studied decades of weather records and computer models of past, present and future climate.
While it is impossible to attribute any one weather event to climate change, several recent studies suggest that human-generated emissions of heat-trapping gases have produced both higher overall temperatures and greater weather variability, which raise the odds of longer, more intense heat waves. [...]
And researchers at the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., reported this week that nighttime summer temperatures across the country have been unusually high for the past eight years, a record streak.
"It's just incredible, when you look at this thing," said Richard Heim, a research meteorologist at the center. He added that only the Dust Bowl period of the mid-1930s rivaled recent summers for sustained heat levels.
And my goodness, we're feeling the effects of this here in California! Look at all the wildfires burning around us. Check out the record-breaking heat in the Inland Empire. Even parts of the Bay Area may hit triple digits this week. We've had plenty of heat before in California, but never like this before.
OK, so it's extra hot this week. So what? It's perfect beach weather! Well, that or shopping in a nice, big air-conditioned mall. Well, that may be true. However, heat like this can also be deadly. Remember all the people who died in last year's heatwave?
Just take a look at some of the nasty health effects of this extreme heat. Bodies get stressed from the extra pressure on the circulatory system. And for people with circulatory problems, this extra pressure can be lethal. Heart-related illnesses escalate, leaving anyone with heart conditions extra vulnerable. And of course, anyone can be susceptible to suffering heat stroke. And if not caught in time, heat stroke can leave one dead.
So why again are we suffering from this extreme heat? The OC Register actually had a good article a couple of weeks ago that gave a good answer. Basically, it's the climate crisis finally crashing down upon us.
While experts debate the exact health effects of climate change, many scientists agree that a growth in heat waves is among the most inevitable. In many areas of the United States, Earth's rising temperature will increase the intensity, number and duration of heat waves in the summer and bring more winter precipitation as rain, said Paul Epstein, associate director for the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School in Boston. [...]
Between 1970 and 2004, greenhouse gas emissions believed to contribute to rising temperatures increased 70 percent, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Scientists have been examining the effects of climate change since the early 1990s, Epstein said. "Finally we're seeing strong signs of it and some of them are way ahead of schedule."
So what can we do now? Aren't we doing plenty already to stop the climate crisis? What about that "Global Warming Solutions Act" that was signed into law last year? Well, the Governator has already been working on ways to weaken the implementation of that and other laws to please his corporate sugar daddies. Meanwhile in Washington, Congress is just now beginning to take some real action on finding solutions to the climate crisis. But of course, anything that Congress passes would have to get through George W. Bush, who still doesn't seem interested in finding any real solutions.
So what can we do? What can we do right now? Well, we can join Environment California in sending personal messages to our Representatives' iPods, urging them to take action on federal legislation to take on climate change. Send an email to Governor Arnold, and let him know that you don't appreciate him weakening the implementation of the climate change law that he had claimed as "his achievement" last year. Oh yes, and if you're healthy and able-bodied, do your best to only use the energy that you need. By all of us being more efficient with our energy usage, we're reducing our carbon footprint AND allowing people who really need that air conditioning to use it.
So go ahead, go to the beach! Just think about riding the bus there, or carpooling with friends. Jump in the pool! Just remember to keep the AC to a minimum when you're not in the house. And please, have a great Fourth of July holiday! Just remember that there are plenty of things we can do to prevent future Fourth of July holidays from becoming blazing infernos that none of us could ever enjoy. : )