Quantcast

5 Extreme Weather Events Impacting the Planet

Climate

Deniers will keep on denying apparently, but the signs of climate change are everywhere. As the planet has warmed up, severe weather events are happening in every corner of the globe, alerting us to the need for strong, immediate action.

1. Many parts of the world are suffering from extended heat waves. We've heard a lot about the heat waves blanketing India and Pakistan, which have claimed a high body count. Thousands of people in the region have died as a result. The situation has been exacerbated by the region's high poverty—most of those dying have been the poor and/or homeless. Temperatures have soared as high as 122 degrees Fahrenheit in New Delhi.

“Let us not fool ourselves that there is no connection between the unusual number of deaths from the ongoing heat wave and the certainty of another failed monsoon,” India's Earth Sciences Minister Harsh Vardhan told Reuters. “It’s not just an unusually hot summer, it is climate change."

2. There's been no dramatic death toll there, but Europe is also languishing under a heat wave, and temperatures there have set records in many places. Germany just set an all-time heat record of 104.5 degrees in the city of Kitzingen. Downtown Frankfort also had its hottest day on record, with a temperature of 102.2 degrees. Paris saw its second hottest day ever on July 1 when the temperature reached 103.5.

And players at this year's Wimbledon might almost think they're back at January's Australian Open where scorching heat has impacted matches for years during that country's peak summer season. On July 1, it reached 96 degrees at the nearest weather reporting station to the fabled tennis courts, but on-court temperatures were much higher. The temperature on Center Court was measured at more than 106 degrees.

Maybe those dangerously hot Australian matches have made the players take heat waves in stride, but top women players seemed unconcerned. “Yeah, it is going to be very hot," said the world No. 1 ranked player and top seed Serena Williams. "But I don’t think I’ve ever played in 34, 35 degrees Celsius here. But I do in other countries. I just was training in Florida. It was like 42 degrees. I mean, this will be OK.” The world No. 4 player, Maria Sharapova, was similarly unconcerned. "It's much warmer in my hometown of Longboat Key, Florida," she said.

3. The wildfire season has started earlier than usual up and down the Pacific Coast of the U.S. and Canada with thousands of acres of drought-parched forests going up in flames. It's not only starting earlier but lasting longer and producing larger and more numerous fires, thanks to a combination of warming temperatures, extreme drought and stronger winds. In California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Alaska, hundreds of fires are forcing the evacuations of thousands of people from their homes. Alaska, where temperatures have warmed twice as fast as the rest of the U.S., saw almost a tenfold increase in wildfires in the 2000s over the 1950s and 1960s. Fires in western Canada are so large and numerous that smoke is blanketing much of the western and midwestern U.S., leading to air quality warnings as far away as Colorado and Minnesota. The National Weather Service has reported some smoke as far east as the Atlantic Coast.

And experts fear that the 2015 season could be the worst yet.

"Climate change and misguided forestry policies have combined to present a landscape very vulnerable to devastating fires,” Dr. Wally Covington, director of the Ecological Restoration Institute at North Arizona University, told Climate News Network. “Since around 2000, we’ve seen more severe dry weather, matched with high winds throughout the western U.S. Intense firestorms are the result. Get in the vicinity of one of those and it’s like being near a blast furnace.”

4. Greenland's ice sheet remained solid during its cool spring, but now that summer has arrived, it's melting at a faster-than-normal rate for this time of year, with half its surface now liquid. Greenland might seem remote, but its ice sheet, the second largest glacial ice mass in the world, influences sea levels and how fast the Gulf Stream current moves. Although the temperatures in Greenland seem polar compared to Europe, those temperatures in the 30s and 40s are accelerating melt. The movements of massive hunks of ice are even causing earthquakes. “The earthquakes are not themselves destabilizing the ice sheet,” said Meredith Nettles of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University. "But they are a marker of the fact that the ice sheet is getting smaller and retreating."

5. The drought in California is well into its fourth year, and the state imposed unprecedented water-saving restrictions in June. While rich people whine about their lawns turning brown, debates rage about allocations for drinking, agriculture, fracking and bottled water companies. Actor Tom Selleck is being accused by the Calleguas Municipal Water District in Ventura County of stealing water from a public hydrant and having it delivered in truckloads to his house. While conservatives have blamed gays, abortion, immigrants and even environmentalists for the drought, scientists, looking at actual facts, are fingering climate change as a more likely culprit.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, "Global climate change affects a variety of factors associated with drought. There is high confidence that increased temperatures will lead to more precipitation falling as rain rather than snow, earlier snow melt, and increased evaporation and transpiration. Thus the risk of hydrological and agricultural drought increases as temperatures rise."

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

300+ Wildfires Rage in Alaska

Epic Drought Brings Fear of Worst Wildfire Season Yet

Jon Stewart: 'It's Time to Get Real' About California's Epic Drought

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

David Gilmour performs at Anfiteatro Scavi di Pomei on July 7, 2016 in Pompei, Italy. Francesco Prandoni / Redferns / Getty Images

David Gilmour, guitarist, singer and songwriter in the rock band Pink Floyd, set a record last week when he auctioned off 126 guitars and raised $21.5 million for ClientEarth, a non-profit environmental law group dedicated to fighting the global climate crisis, according to CNN.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue speaks during a forum April 18, 2018 in Washington, DC. Alex Wong / Getty Images

The Trump administration ratcheted up its open hostility to climate science in a move that may hide essential information from the nation's farmers.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

Zero Waste Kitchen Essentials

Simple swaps that cut down on kitchen trash.

Sponsored

By Kayla Robbins

Along with the bathroom, the kitchen is one of the most daunting areas to try and make zero waste.

Read More Show Less
Protestors and police stand on ether side of railway tracks. dpa / picture-alliance

Police have cleared 250 climate activists who stayed overnight at the Garzweiler brown coal mine in western Germany, officials said Sunday.

Read More Show Less
Cecilie_Arcurs / E+ / Getty Images

By Megan Jones and Jennifer Solomon

The #MeToo movement has caused profound shake-ups at organizations across the U.S. in the last two years. So far, however, it has left many unresolved questions about how workplaces can be more inclusive and equitable for women and other diverse groups.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Cigarette butts are the most-littered item found at beach clean ups. John R. Platt

By Tara Lohan

By now it's no secret that plastic waste in our oceans is a global epidemic. When some of it washes ashore — plastic bottles, plastic bags, food wrappers — we get a stark reminder. And lately one part of this problem has been most glaring to volunteers who comb beaches picking up trash: cigarette butts.

Read More Show Less

Andrea Rodgers, second from the right, takes notes during a hearing in the Juliana v. U.S. case before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Portland, Oregon on June 4. Colleague Elizabeth Brown sits to her left, while colleague Julia Olson sits on her right, with co-council Philip Gregory on Julia's right. Robin Loznak / Our Children's Trust

By Fran Korten

On June 4, Andrea Rodgers was in the front row of attorneys sitting before a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court. The court session, held in Portland, Oregon, was to determine whether the climate change lawsuit (Juliana v. United States) brought by 21 young plaintiffs should be dismissed, as requested by the U.S. government, or go on to trial.

Read More Show Less
Seventy Extinction Rebellion protesters were arrested outside The New York Times building Saturday. SCOOTERCASTER / YouTube screenshot

Seventy Extinction Rebellion protesters were arrested outside The New York Times building Saturday as they demanded the paper improve its coverage of the climate crisis, Reuters reported.

Read More Show Less