As temperature across the world rises to record peaks, regular people must deal with this unprecedented heat.
This summer has already experienced record-breaking high temperatures across the globe. 2018 is on pace to be the fourth hottest year on record, according to CNN. The only three other years surpassing it so far are 2015, 2016, and 2017, and 2018 still has plenty of time to catch up. Elena Manaenkova, deputy head of the World Meteorological Organization, said in an article by The New York Times that this year was “shaping up to be one of the hottest years on record” and that this “extreme heat recorded so far was not surprising in light of climate change.”
In Ouargala, Algeria, a record high of 124 degrees Fahrenheit was experienced on July 5th, causing a halt in outside work operations and a power outage. Hong Kong’s temperatures “soared past 91 degrees Fahrenheit for 16 consecutive days in the second half of May.” Nawabshah, Pakistan endured a record-high 122 degrees Fahrenheit on April 30th, leading to packed government hospitals and a shortage of medical staff. Even the Nordic country of Norway endured its hottest month of May in the past 100 years, with 16 consecutive days of temperatures being higher than 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Weather stations on the edge of the Sahara and above the Arctic Circle have logged record-high temperatures. And the summer isn’t over yet.
Scientists are taking note of these rising temperatures and seeing them as indicators for global warming. “The impacts of climate change are no longer subtle. We are seeing them play out in real time in the form of unprecedented heat waves, floods, droughts, and wildfires. And we’ve seen them all this summer,” said Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University, to CNN. Scientists are also taking note that this trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down. If anything, “the body of evidence shows that the world will face longer, more intense heat waves as average temperatures go up, and that they will be deadly,” according to an article by Vox.
These heat waves’ true danger emerges with people that are ill-equipped to cool themselves off. According to Vox, “The common denominator in the recent heat-related deaths and hospital visits in Canada and Japan is that many occurred among people who were already facing health risks and who didn’t have access to cooling.” A similar situation occurred in Pakistan when a power outage during its recent heat wave caused multiple deaths. The World Meteorological Organization says that heat-related deaths and illnesses have risen steadily since 1980 and 30 percent of the world’s population lives in regions vulnerable to heat waves. With climate change heightening temperatures worldwide, global environmental policies need to be implemented in order to lower greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the frequencies and intensities of these heat waves.