Climate Change Reflection in Summer Heat
August 22, 2022
Summers are becoming increasingly hotter. Climate Central, a non-profit that analyzes climate science, shows that 235 out of 246 US locations have seen an increase in their summer average temperature since 1970, but we are also witnessing similar effects in other parts around the world. There's a severe heatwave happening in Europe and Asia, and people are coping with swamp coolers, cool foot baths, and popsicles. Unfortunately, it's looking like things are only going to get worse from here.
The United States is on its third heatwave of the summer. Temperatures have been in the triple digits or are expected to at least feel like they are in more than a few areas in the US. Dallas, St. Louis, Memphis Tennessee, Little Rock Arkansas, Birmingham Alabama, Atlanta, and Raleigh North Carolina, all have been warned of scorching temperatures during July. Above normal temperatures are projected to soar into the 90s and 100s along central and southern plains to the Southeast. Paired with high humidity, the weather will feel even hotter.
This is expected to get worse before it gets better. Greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere will continue to increase unless our annual emissions decrease substantially. Increases in the average global temperatures are expected to be within the range of 0.5°F to 8.6°F by 2100 due to the Greenhouse Effect, and changes in precipitation and storm patterns will occur as well. While temperature changes are a bit more concrete, we know for certain it'll get hotter if we keep going at this rate, storms and precipitation patterns are a bit more unpredictable, varying by season and region. Some areas may experience less precipitation and storms during certain seasons, while others may experience more. This could result in droughts in other parts around the world and heavy rain in other regions. Climatologists advise that storm tracks are projected to shift poleward.
On an individual level, there are a few things we can do to reduce our carbon footprint to prevent this from worsening. We can change what we eat by consuming more organic foods and less red meat and by using reusable water bottles rather than plastic since this produces less waste. Changes in travel and transportation can make a difference by walking or biking for shorter trips to reduce cars on the road, and it also helps to keep stuff out of the landfill by selling, donating, or repurposing items that are no longer needed. It's important to keep the tires on your car inflated too and get regular tune-ups because when your car’s tires are low on pressure, it has to work harder to get around, wasting gas and increasing emissions in the process. Additionally, using the cold-water cycle for washing your clothes is a good option when possible, and doing your laundry in full loads. This will decrease the amount of water and energy used, helping you save time and money, and drying your clothing on a clothesline helps because it takes a lot of energy to power a dryer.
To help change things on a larger scale, it's important to remain vocal and get involved with environmental organizations by volunteering and donating if you can. One nonprofit organization that helps the environment by reforestation, planting trees, and restoring ecosystems is Green Forests Work. You can even help just by adding your voice to these organizations, being politically aware of what is and isn't being done to fight climate change so that you can make informed decisions when it comes to electing officials, and by being active in your daily life to fight climate change. It's important to act now before it gets worse.
In the meantime, here are some ways to cope with the heat. First, it's important to drink lots of water and don't wait until you're thirsty to drink. It also helps to limit the use of a stove or oven since this will increase the heat in your home, and the CDC suggests taking cool showers or baths to cool down, staying in an air-conditioned indoor location as much as you can, and not relying on fans as much during hot weather, and not leaving children and pets in the car.
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Keep Your Cool in Hot Weather. cdc.gov. (2022). Retrieved 30 July 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/features/extremeheat/index.html.
Major, P., et al. (2022). 3rd Heat Wave Grips the South This Summer, and Experts Say it Will Get Worse. CNN. Retrieved 29 July 2022, from https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.cnn.com/cnn/2022/07/07/weather/excessive-heat-us-south/index.html.
Top 10 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint and Save Money. austintexas.gov. (2017). Retrieved 29 July 2022, from https://www.austintexas.gov/blog/top-10-ways-reduce-your-carbon-footprint-and-save-money.