Monday, June 19, 2017

Maybe I'll Stick With Dreary and Cold

My daughter called me for Father's Day. Kind of a lousy day - grey, windy, damp, maybe 15 degrees Celsius. That was here on Vancouver Island, not in Dublin where she lives. In Dublin it was 29C and at nearly midnight to boot.

I was almost jealous of that lovely warmth. Almost. But I've come to realize that cool and damp is a pretty decent hand to be dealt these days. Lousy as it may seem it's better than most other places, including a 29C night in Dublin.

Now we're told to brace for a future of steadily worsening heatwaves around the world. Not uncomfortable heat. Deadly heat.

Nearly a third of the world’s population is now exposed to climatic conditions that produce deadly heatwaves, as the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere makes it “almost inevitable” that vast areas of the planet will face rising fatalities from high temperatures, new research has found.

Climate change has escalated the heatwave risk across the globe, the study states, with nearly half of the world’s population set to suffer periods of deadly heat by the end of the century even if greenhouse gases are radically cut.

“For heatwaves, our options are now between bad or terrible,” said Camilo Mora, an academic at the University of Hawaii and lead author of the study.

Oh, our old friend, Dr. Mora, whose team of researchers introduced us to the daunting prospect of "climate departure" predicted to begin setting in within the next five or six years.

High temperatures are currently baking large swaths of the south-western US, with the National Weather Service (NWS) issuing an excessive heat warning for Phoenix, Arizona, which is set to reach 119F (48.3C) on Monday.

The heat warning extends across much of Arizona and up through the heart of California, with Palm Springs forecast a toasty 116F (46.6C) on Monday and Sacramento set to reach 107F (41.6C).

The NWS warned the abnormal warmth would “significantly increase the potential for heat-related illness” and advised residents to drink more water, seek shade and recognize the early symptoms of heat stroke, such as nausea and a racing pulse.

Mora’s research shows that the overall risk of heat-related illness or death has climbed steadily since 1980, with around 30% of the world’s population now living in climatic conditions that deliver deadly temperatures at least 20 days a year.

Heatwaves kill. Upwards of 70,000 Europeans are thought to have perished in the heatwave of 2003.

These heatwaves have introduced another weather phenomenon, "flash drought." This is the combination of intense heating triggering evapotranspiration coupled with minimal soil moisture. Crops wither and die in a matter of days.

The opposite of flash drought is "wet-bulb 35." Also known as the "human hothouse effect," this is where high heat and high humidity can combine to overwhelm and kill even young and fit people. The body loses its ability to cool itself through perspiration and then it's either find air conditioning or, well...


Toby said...

When do we start building super cities shielded from the effects of external climate by huge domes? We could sacrifice the external planet and live inside climate controlled zones. I suppose that's what leaders like Justin and his buddy Donald are thinking. They certainly show no sign of tackling climate change head on.

The Mound of Sound said...

Sort of like what Elon Musk has in mind for the first settlements on Mars, Toby?

bill said...

read the caves of steel and the naked sun by Isaak Asimov. there are several more books interconnected that the wrote that describe what you are thinking. the foundation series is based on an entire planet that is a city. in all his writing he has a few simple messages.first, you can have robots and few people or people and few robots. second the larger the central government the more it depends on surrounding countries, planets, whatever for its basic needs which is its ultimate achilles heal. I guess the third lesson is that the larger the empire the weaker it is. history has proven all these points over and over just in different forms.

The Mound of Sound said...

When I think on that, Bill, I suspect Asimov's warnings are as timely as they are true.

bill said...

I have always enjoyed good fiction as a way of dealing with real life. just finished watching all the home improvement episodes which would have high ratings today. good fiction is based on real life whether geo political or just everyday problems.
it is interesting that everyone I know that denies global warming or thinks trump is a hero can't stand fiction yet they can tell you every detail of what was on tv news yesterday or the latest reality show episode. or the latest Hollywood gossip.
maybe there is some connection between the dumbing down of our society and how different people choose to escape from the worlds problems. I have always found that after taking a break from the world that the problems are a bit smaller if looked at from others eyes or in context of a different time.