In the last five years, climate change has made significant momentum. The United States, mostly known for its cold and snowy climate in the northern states, is witnessing a tremendous increase of average temperature. Warmer periods have extended over the years, leading to more storms and hurricanes on the east coast. Heat waves are one of the most noticeable outcomes of climate change impacting almost all parts of the United States. In fact, every year most of states are experiencing temperatures above the average. I believe that heat waves are making an unbearable situation for us and is ruining the natural balance of nature.
What is a heat wave? According to the National Weather Service a heat wave is a period of abnormally hot weather generally lasting more than two days and sometimes a whole week. Heat waves can occur with or without high humidity. They have potential to cover a large area, exposing a high number of people to hazardous heat. In the middle of August of 2021, half of the U.S from the East coast to the Midwest experienced an extreme heat wave. Although the weather forecast stated that it would stay for 4 days, the intensity of the heat wave remained for almost 8 days. We can see the extreme impact of heat waves and how long it can last for. As a result, it brings a number of consequences in different fields and also works as a triggering factor to other disasters. Here these consequences can be divided into three types in my opinion, 1. Impact on living beings 2. Provocation of Natural disaster 3. Economical damages.
When it comes to death by natural disasters, we often think about storms, floods, lightning strikes and snow, but in reality it is a heat wave. A chart which is presented by Weather Underground shows the heat waves outnumber its death toll than the rest of the disasters. Within the last 30 years, the average death by heat wave is 134 which is more than floods, tornados and other calamities. In 2021, almost 1260 people died from extreme heat. Following that the death rate in the year 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017 was almost 1.5 per million which is almost 500 people each year. Besides, illness related to heat is very common including dehydration, headache and unconsciousness. Those who have migraines suffer the most and have a high chance of heat stroke. Extreme UV rays due to heat waves are responsible for skin cancer and visual problems.
Heat waves melt more glaciers than usual and melted glaciers have caused e sea level, increasing the chance of more floods. In recent times, the coastal part of the Eastern U.S. is suffering through more floods. On the other side, the Western part of the U.S is suffering from a rapid number of wildfires. Heat waves create drought conditions which eventually lead to dry thunderstorms and wildfires. The Americans saw the deadliest wildfire in 2020 and 2021. These wildfires spread all across California, Oregon and Washington and caused severe damage to forest and living beings.
The following two consequences lead to the third type of consequence which is economic damages. Wildfires created by heat waves caused severe damage to properties and natural resources. These wildfire rescue missions cost millions of dollars. During heat waves power supplies get cut off because the electrical cables get caught on fire. Sometimes extreme heat causes automotive engine failure and engine fire which result in traffic blockage and accidents. Also, people have to pay extra utility bills especially for the purchase of new cooling appliances. Heat waves in general bring a severe slow-down on trades and work because of extreme discomfort. And all these slow down the economy too.
There is no doubt that climate change is making our lives harder. It is also an unhealthy condition of living. In addition, people and the government have to lose their property and invest money to recover the damages. For the government, it is getting harder to plan a stable infrastructure. Surely, we don’t want to live on earth where oxygen masks and heat protective suits would be required to live. Therefore, it is the time for us to take action against this future apocalypse. Also, making people aware and understanding the terrible outcome of global warming and climate change is as important as preventing the escalating changes.