Heat waves are hitting the world, made more frequent by climate change, scientists say


As much of the nation swelters in temperatures that have outdoor sports canceledsparked wildfires and taxed infrastructure to keep people cool, experts warn heatwaves will only increase.

Heat waves are just one of the types of extreme weather changes that are becoming more common, but they’ve already claimed lives in the United States and around the world this year.

“It’s climate change that scientists promised us,” Michal Nachmany, founder of Climate Policy Radar, told CBS News foreign correspondent Ramy Inocencio of record temperatures in the UK this week.

“This level of extreme weather is life threatening, and we really want to make sure people are under no illusions that this is serious and it’s here to stay for the foreseeable future,” Nachmany said. .

In Phoenix, for example, heat kills as many people as homicides, said David Hondula, the city’s director of heat response and mitigation. CBS News“Ben Tracy.

Climatologist Daniel Swain, who writes about weather in the western United States on his website, pointed out last week that what he called “a prolonged and locally intense heat wave across western North America in the coming weeks” is “the least extreme event of its kind”. currently underway on several continents,” including Europe and China.

The Associated Press reports that heatwaves in China earlier this month — particularly in Zhejiang province, east of Shanghai — saw temperatures top 42 degrees Celsius (up to 107 degrees Fahrenheit). The heat also hospitalized people in Henang, Sichuan and Heilongiang provinces.

The human toll from heat this year is increasing both globally and closer to home. In North Texas, where firefighters fought 780% more fires in July compared to last year – and officials said a A 66-year-old woman has died heat-related causes this week – La Niña helps to favor drought conditions and high heat.

“We have a pretty significant drought all over North and Central Texas. This drought has caused us to enter summer much earlier than we normally see,” Sarah Barnes, a meteorologist at the National Office, told CBS News. Weather Service in Fort Worth, TX. ‘Kris Van Cleave.

These drought conditions are causing warmer temperatures, the NWS said.

“We are definitely seeing more extreme weather due to climate change,” Barnes added.

While the air conditioning is one of the best ways to stay cool, this is not common everywhere. And when the power goes out, the air conditioning goes out with it.

“There has been a doubling in the number of outages per year over the past five years, and the majority of outages occur in summer, during hot weather,” said Brian Stone, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology who studies climate. urban. change, says CBS Moneywatch earlier this year.

In Texas, the power grid has already been taxed by extreme temperatures this summer – and officials in other states notify their electrical infrastructure could be too.

“Most summers these days are the hottest summers ever. On top of that is just a creeping risk of outdated infrastructure…and those trends are converging at the wrong time,” Stone said. .

This week the The UK recorded a record high of 40 degrees Celsiusthat’s about 104 degrees Fahrenheit — 30 degrees warmer than typical summer temperatures in a country where less than 5% of homes are estimated to have air conditioning, CBS News foreign correspondent Roxana Saberi reports.

“Climate change has everything to do with the extreme weather we’re seeing right now, and it’s human-induced climate change. It’s not a natural variation,” Kirsty McCabe told CBS News. , meteorologist at the Royal Meteorological Society of the United Kingdom. correspondent Roxana Saberi.

Extreme heat has contributed to wildfires in the UK and across Europe, including France, Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal.

“We used to watch polar bears and then say, ‘This is about our children and our grandchildren,'” Nachmany said. “It’s not. It’s us. It’s here. It’s now.”


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