June has been really hot here in the UK and there are reports that the USA is experiencing similar high temperatures. In July and August in Europe, temperatures have risen into the 40s, with a heatwave named ‘Lucifer’, and reports that snow is melting in the Italian alps and increased deaths due to heat stroke.
USA: A report from USA Today has said that due to the heat, American Airlines have had to cancel several flights from Phoenix, as follows:
“The extreme heat forecast for Phoenix on Tuesday has caused the cancellation of 20 American Airlines flights out of Sky Harbor International Airport.
According to a statement from American Airlines, the American Eagle regional flights use the Bombardier CRJ aircraft, which has a maximum operating temperature of 118 degrees. Tuesday’s forecast for Phoenix included a high of 120 degrees, and the flights that are affected were to take off between 3 and 6 p.m. MT.
Customers affected were told to contact American Airlines for rebooking options or to request a refund.
Extreme heat affects a plane’s ability to take off. Hot air is less dense than cold air, and the hotter the temperature, the more speed a plane needs to lift off. A runway might not be long enough to allow a plane to achieve the necessary extra speed. “
Are we to experience more and more of these excessive temperature events? After all, every one of the last three years has been the hottest on record. Will this be enough to change Donald Trump’s mind about the Paris Agreement?
Another report in the Huffington Post on 14th February 2018, cites a study from Princeton University, which predicts that, by 2100 most cities are set to become unbearably warm. Thanks to a combination of impenetrable, concrete surfaces and lack of moisture in the surrounding areas these cities will become hot spots during a heat wave. By 2050, it is predicted that 70% of the world’s population could be living in cities.
In the UK, 2017 was the hottest June since 1976. I can remember the heat in that year – but somehow it felt like a dryer heat then. Still uncomfortable if you were out in the sun but not quite as sticky and debilitating as this June has been.
And whilst we are feeling the effects here in a temperate country, let us not forget those hotter countries where they are experiencing even higher temperatures than normal. And the devastating forest fires in Portugal, France, the USA and Australia.
Iran, having the highest ever recorded temperature in June 2017, with Pakistan not far behind, both well into the 50s Celsius.
Ahvaz in Iran, which reached the highest ever recorded temperature on 29th June 2017, a staggering 129.2 degrees Fahrenheit
Heat waves are more easily attributable to climate change, according to scientists, because there is a clear connection between carbon absorbed in the atmosphere and temperature rises. Such extreme heat put the residents of Ahvaz in serious danger for dehydration, heat fatigue, heat cramps, heat stroke, and other illnesses. For the elderly, these risks are amplified.
Parts of Iran have also struggled with extreme droughts in recent years, which is threatening the country’s water sources and harming agriculture. Lake Urmia, for instance, once the sixth-largest saline lake in the world, has lost 90% of its water since 1970. Taken together, Iran is experiencing climate change more intensely than many other countries in the world.
My book finishes with a quote from Devinder Sharma from India. Here is part of what he wrote in 2016 (and 2017 has been even worse):
“It has now become even more obvious than before that the world we are living in has
changed profoundly in the last five years. Every passing year is turning out to be hotter
than the previous. It is just the middle of April but vast tracts of India are reeling under
scorching heat with temperatures zipping past the 40 degrees mark. In 13 States, April
temperature is higher by 8 degrees from the average. This will only intensify, as the
season warms up. India is on the boil, literally………….
“We are now in mid-April and I can already feel the average temperatures creeping up. While we can survive, my thoughts go out to the 700 million people reeling under two consecutive years of drought. With wells almost dry and walking on a parched land they will now have to confront an unkindly hot sun. Some reports say wells have dried to a level in Marathwada not seen in past 100 years. Another report tells us that 133 rivers have dried in Jharkhand. To make matters worse, a BBC report indicated that the government might pipe Himalayan water and carry it all the way to the parched lands. After all, this is the surest way to add to GDP!
The relatively well-off in the cities, towns and suburbs have the facility to switch on an air conditioner or an air-cooler but imagine the plight of majority population who have no
other option but to survive under shade, be it at home or under the tree.
Water bodies have dried up. Many studies point to a steep fall in water levels in major
reservoirs to the levels that are lowest in a decade.”
Sharma also reports that, in the previous year (2015), there were 1,500 deaths from the effects of heat wave in Andhra Pradesh alone.
Pakistan has also felt the effects of extreme heat. The photograph below shows people in Lahore cooling off in a water channel.
And in Africa, there are more famines and drought and more starving children. Also, from the following website:
came this report:
“Not so long ago, Lake Chad was one of the largest bodies of water in Africa. The thick reeds and vital wetlands around its basin provided vast freshwater reserves, breeding grounds for fish, fertile soil for agriculture, and grasslands where farmers grazed their animals. In 1963, it spanned almost 10,000 square miles, an expanse roughly the size of Maryland. But as climate change has taken its toll, the lake has shrunk by 90 percent. Today, only 965 square miles remain. Wetlands have given way to sand dunes. Farmers have abandoned their fields. Those who still live by the lake struggle to survive, beset by chronic drought and the slow onset of ecological catastrophe.”
Update August 17th 2017
Now today, I have received a report to say that July 2017 has been equal first in being the hottest global temperature since records began. And yes, it is equal with July 2016! July is traditionally the hottest month of the year globally and the last two Julys have been the hottest ever.
The researchers from England, France, Switzerland, and the U.S., found that climate change made the intensity and frequency of the extreme heat at least twice as likely to occur in Belgium, at least four times as likely in France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and central England, and at least 10 times as likely as Portugal and Spain.
The unusual heat was not limited to Europe, either.
On July 21, Shanghai, China, which is the most populated city in the world with 24 million residents, set a record for its hottest day since record-keeping began there in 1872. The high temperature on that day was 105.6 degrees Fahrenheit, or 40.9 degrees Celsius, and it fits with a pattern of hotter weather in that city.
The planet has not had a cooler than average month since December of 1984.
The graph below shows seasonal temperatures from 1884 to 2017.
Can we continue to ignore these facts and behave as if nothing is happening?
I believe that we are seeing the beginnings of climate change effects that can only get worse if nothing is done to reverse the trend.