Wildfires burn in California and Oregon amidst heatwavePosted by Thomas Bush / July 15, 2021
Death Valley, California hit 130º as the west coast gets blasted with another heat wave. In addition to the extreme heat, California is also facing danger from wildfires, which are raging in the northern part of the state, exacerbated by the weather.
This summer is making it clear just how radically climate change has affected our world. The United States has just experienced the hottest June in the 127 years since record keeping began. Even though it’s early, the West has been experiencing a tremendously hot summer.
More than a billion animals living on the British Colombia seashore may have died during the last heatwave. Animals like mussels, clams, sea stars, and others died en masse along the shore, leading to a horrible smell and a ravaged ecosystem.
Canadians on the west side of the country had to ditch the usual light sweaters for bathing suits as temperatures soared this week to nearly 116º, shattering heat records for the region. So far, at least 230 people have died from the heat and a thousand people had to be evacuated from a town as a wildfire raged. Fire clouds in the region led to over 700,000 lightning strikes, a highly unusual event in Canada.
Earlier this month, NASA and NOAA said the Earth is now trapping an unprecedented amount of heat, which is contributing to rapidly warming air, water, and land. That helps to explain the heatwave heading to the American West, and some 200 million people are expected to suffer through 90º weather––another 40 million will be sweating through 100º+ weather. Although there has been progress towards addressing climate change (see below), this is a reminder that we are still in––forgive the pun––hot water. The spiking temperatures are likely to bring a dubious honor to the United States: World’s Hottest Place. Nevada had already set a record for high temperatures for this time of year.
The Keystone XL pipeline has been canceled. The nixing of the project has led climate change activists to rejoice, and honestly we should all rejoice with them. If they are right, and the age of fossil fuels is ending, it can’t end quickly enough. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has said that the levels of carbon dioxide in the air are now 50% higher than the preindustrial period.
Researchers found that arctic ice is thinning twice as fast as they originally anticipated. Climate scientists have warned that the world has a 40% chance of being hotter than pre-Industrial Revolution temperatures, which is the lower of the two temperature limits set by the Paris Agreement. The odds of that happening sooner rather than later seem good, since China’s construction boom has generated something like 12 billion metric tons of CO2. Nevertheless, the United States and China have agreed to move forward with climate change, despite the rising tensions over Taiwan and the Philippines.
The Arctic Circle reached a shocking 100.4ºF this year, a temperature scientists didn’t expect to see until the year 2100. If that temperature is verified, it will be the hottest ever recorded.
Climate change is killing people––literally. Scientists in Australia estimate that some 2% of deaths between 2006-2017 resulted from excessive heat. Without accounting for climate-related deaths as they happen, it will be impossible to keep track of the damage or understand exactly how climate change is affecting people.
Just look at the fires from Australia as the year ends: the country was literally burning to the ground. The images that came out of the country depict “armageddon.” An estimated 500 million animals have been killed in the fires. The fires are so bad they’re creating their own weather. Thousands of Australians were trapped on beaches trying to escape the fires, which are neared Melbourne suburbs. Elsewhere, in villages in the state of Victoria, citizens were warned that it’s too late to escape, and they must stay inside.