We, in the Mid-Ohio Valley, have experienced a relatively moderate summer – no prolonged heat waves or severe storms. That is not the case in other parts of our country and in other parts of the world. Even before our summer officially began, a severe heat wave seized the country in May; that month, as a result, the fourth hottest may ever have been. And when the summer sprung up in the northern hemisphere, four continents (Europe, Asia, North Africa and North America) experienced their warmest summer ever. In one oil city in Algeria the temperature reached 1240F Fahrenheit; in Pakistan it reached 1220F and in normally cool Oslo, Norway 860F for 16 consecutive days. Scientists predict that heat waves are more common than in the past due to man-made climate change. Northern climates, where carbon emissions are most prevalent, heat faster than the global average.
What are the consequences in the short and long term of these extreme weather conditions around the world? The open access medical and scientific publication called PLOS in his Medicine Project concluded that there is an increase in mortality due to these unusual heat waves. In Algeria, oil workers could not work in the extreme heat for more than two hours a day. In North America, rails break under extreme heat, causing railway companies to paint them white to reflect more heat. Forest fires have become stricter and more extensive in the American West. Some farmers in Europe strongly consider slaughtering their herds instead of continuing to feed them in the context of declining water and grain and hay problems. In the long run, crops in temperate climates do not grow under extended heat waves; fish will be harvested in smaller numbers in warming oceans; and animals raised in overheated environments will be lighter and less numerous. The threats to wildlife in natural habitats in the northern hemisphere are even more worrying; in fact, the Marietta Times recently brought an article with it saying that climate change is the likely reason for the decrease in the number of bird species by 43% in the Nevada and California area.
In the past, scientists have struggled to identify a causal link between man-made climate change and extreme weather. Now there is a breakthrough in the scientific methodology to make this connection clearer. In analyzing data from Australian heat waves in 2013, torrential rainfall in Louisiana in 2016 and sudden floods in France, scientists have compared two sets of climate models that take into account existing conditions in which rising carbon dioxide has warmed the planet and that. which assume that the CO2 emissions have never happened and the climate is as it was more than a century ago. This approach to study extreme weather conditions is called climate change allocation.
When applying this "Attribution" method for data from the Hurricane Harvey 2017 in southeastern Texas, scientists have attributed the extreme rainfall of this event to climate change. During Hurricane Harvey, 50-inch rain occurred in some areas. World Weather Attribution concluded that climate change explains an increase in precipitation in relation to Harvey by a factor of three. In the devastation caused by this hurricane, 80 people died and thousands of houses and farms were destroyed by flooding.
We can anticipate more human suffering and death and increased material damage if we do not take action to mitigate the effects of climate change and reduce carbon emissions. These steps include reconnecting with the Paris Climate Agreement, continuing to support the closure of coal-fired power plants (switching workers and communities from coal to energy production in the 21st century), reducing methane emissions from the hydraulic fracturing process (fracking ), strengthening sustainable agriculture, and working for renewable energy. We can demonstrate our personal commitment to reducing CO2 emissions by choosing hybrid and electric vehicles, solar panels for generating electricity at home and practicing the three R & # 39; s – reduce, reuse and recycle.
George Banziger lives in Marietta.