You’ve seen the headlines. Dozens of people dead in Japan of heat stroke. Massive forest fires raging in Sweden. Dozens dead in Athens from wildfires. Record temperatures in Oman and Algeria.
The world is suffering from heat waves on four continents all at once. Marina Pitofsky notes,
- “In the past 30 days, there have been 3,092 new daily high temperatures, 159 new monthly heat records and 55 all-time highs worldwide, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.”
The earth is trying to tell us something with these global heat waves. It is to knock it off.
We’re farting out 37 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide a year, and our emissions were up by 2% last year. We were putting almost no carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in 1750, when there were about 270 parts per million of C02 up there as there had been for hundreds of thousands of years prior). Then we started burning coal to boil water to turn turbines, and then we started burning petroleum to run vehicles and we electrified our businesses and homes, using coal and natural gas. And we put out billions and billions of tons of C02 (remember this is a gas, so it doesn’t weigh much– a ton of it is a lot). Now there are like 410 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It is a heat-trapping gas, so, duh, if you burn fossil fuels you will make the planet hot.
Of course, there have always been heat waves, defined as the 3 hottest days of the year in any locale. But now heat waves are twice as likely to occur as they used to, and this doubling is caused by you and me, according to a rigorous scientific study.
You mostly won’t be told this simple fact, which most of us old timers can testify to from simple personal experience over the decades, by corporate media. They report the more frequent and more intense heat waves, but do not for the most part tell you why they are happening. The corporations are owned by the rich, who have investments in Exxon-Mobil, Shell, Total, BP, etc. If people realized that the product these companies sell daily is causing the earth to heat up dangerously, their stocks would suddenly become worthless. Corporate news is all about trying to prevent stocks from becoming worthless.
We are reaching a tipping point in some regions where human beings are now more important in driving heat waves than is nature. NOAA informs us that
- “A new analysis of heat wave patterns appearing today in Nature Climate Change concludes that climate change driven by the buildup of human-caused greenhouse gases will overtake natural variability as the main cause of heat waves in the western United States by the late 2020s and by the mid-2030s in the Great Lakes region.”
And then there is Parag Khanna’s map of a 4 degree C. hotter world (a 7.2 F. hotter surface temperature than today on average all around the world).
h/t My Modern Met
This future can be stopped. It is in our hands. If we swing into action, we can keep global heating to half that amount and avoid the full calamity.