Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) The Iranian city of Zabol in the northern part of the Sistan and Baluchistan province won the global high temperature sweepstakes on June 22, according to the Spanish meteorological site OGIMET , coming in at 50.8 °C [123.44 °F]. It is the first time in 60 years that a city in the north of that province recorded a temperature higher than 50 °C [122 °F] in spring, even the last day of spring. As long as Iran has been recording temperatures, Zabol only got to 51 °C [123.8 °F] once, in the summer of 1970.
Human-caused climate change, from burning fossil fuels such as petroleum, has raised average earth surface temperatures in Europe and the Middle East by about 3.8 °F since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, nearly twice the global average of about 2 °F increase. Ironically, Iran has been a major producer and exporter of petroleum, the very substance that, when burned, is helping turn parts of Iran into a hellscape. Higher temperatures dry out and harden the soil, making it less absorptive of water and so contributing to flash floods when it does rain.
Some 2 billion people are in danger of suffering adverse health effects from extra heat if the world continues it current rate of CO2 and methane emissions.
Climate change is contributing to water shortages and has exacerbated competition over water rights. In late May, Iran and Afghanistan got into a brief skirmish over water rights at the border between Afghanistan and Sistan and Baluchistan Province.
The weather phenomenon termed El Nino has a big but variable impact on temperatures. This warming or cooling of waters in the South Pacific can cause lower temperatures (El Nina) or higher ones (El Nino) in some parts of the world. Recent El Nina years may have helped mask how bad temperatures are getting as we spew over 37 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmsosphere every year. CO2 is a greenhouse gas that interferes with the heat of the sun’s rays radiating back out into space, keeping the heat on earth.
2023 is an El Nino year and so will likely set heat records. But some of those records will be achieved because the El Nino is coming on top of global heating already baked in by the CO2 emissions.
Summer just started, and parts of the world have been seeing extra hot weather this spring, continuing to this day. Bangladesh, India and Pakistan (what scholars call “South Asia”) have been suffering from heat waves. Uttar Pradesh and Bihar states in India asked people over 60 not to leave their homes for fear that heat stroke would target the elderly. As it was, 100 people died of heat stroke during the past week in India. A British study found that “climate change has made record-breaking heat waves in northwest India and Pakistan 100 times more likely. Climate change has contributed majorly to making summer hotter as extreme temperatures would occur once every 312 years without climate change.” India is the third-highest emitter of CO2 and plans new coal plants.
Texas and Mexico are seeing unseasonably hot temperatures. Northern China is sweltering.
Heat waves are not new in history, but the likelihood they will occur, along with their severity and length have been increasing because of human-caused climate change.