Record high temperatures have been set across much of the world this week as an unusually prolonged and broad heatwave intensifies concerns about climate change.
The past month has seen power shortages in California as record heat forced a surge of demand for air conditioners. Algeria has experienced the hottest temperature ever reliably registered in Africa. Britain, meanwhile, has experienced its third longest heatwave, melting the roof of a science building in Glasgow and exposing ancient hill forts in Wales.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said the rising temperatures were at odds with a global cyclical climate phenomena known as La Niña, which is usually associated with cooling.
...Even when the sun goes down, night is not providing the cooling relief it once did in many parts of the world. At Quriyat, on the coast of Oman, overnight temperatures remained above 42.6C, which is believed to be the highest “low” temperature ever recorded in the world. Downtown Los Angeles also saw a new monthly July minimum overnight record of 26.1C on 7 July.
Globally, the warmest year on record was in 2016, boosted by the natural climate cycle El Niño. Last year, temperatures hit the highest level without that amplifying phenomenon. This year, at the other cooling end of the cycle, is continuing the overall upward trend.
Swathes of the northern hemisphere have seen unusually persistent warmth due to strong, persistent high pressure systems that have created a “heat dome” over much of Eurasia.
“What’s unusual is the hemispheric scale of the heatwave,” said Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University. “It’s not just the magnitude in any one location but that high temperatures are being seen over such a large area.”Just look at all the records we're setting and in consecutive years - highest El Nino year, hottest Enso-neutral year, and now, in what should be a cooling, La Nina year, another record.
The thing is, this is your new normal. Normal for now, at least. Who knows what normal is going to be in ten years, twenty years or more?
I'm so grateful our government is racing all out to wean us from fossil fuels and transition Canada into alternative clean energy. We're going to need a massive amount of clean energy just to cool ourselves in the summer and warm ourselves when those Polar Vortex fronts sweep through in winter.
What's that? We're not in a race to transition from fossil fuels? We're actually trying to ramp up the production and export of high-carbon bitumen - despite all the warnings of climate scientists? And our provinces - Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and now Prince Edward Island - are uniting to oppose even basic carbon pricing?
Why isn't Ottawa talking to us about what's in our short- and mid-term future? Would that make them look like monsters for their single-minded pursuit of bitumen exports? How many of us have to die before they change? And what about the people who already live in heatwaves well into the upper 40 degrees Celsius? How many of them have to die before we stop promoting the greenhouse gas emissions-rich bitumen?
Oh, relax. Justin Trudeau, with all the logical consistency he's displayed in the 18-year old groping matter, assures us that a green future awaits Canada just as soon as the Justin Trudeau Memorial Trans-Mountain pipeline has finished moving Athabasca carbon sludge to world markets.
Of course by the time Trans-Mountain is over, we may be too.