Climate change has been a topic of discussion for many years now, and it has affected the whole world. With global warming increasing at a fast rate, we have experienced hotter and longer summers. While global warming is a natural occurring phenomenon, the current climate we are experiencing is nothing natural, it is man-made. A heat wave is defined as a period of unusually high temperatures that last two or more days (What is a heat wave?, 2022). Heat waves happen when warm air gets trapped into the atmosphere with nowhere to go due to increased greenhouse gasses. According to an article in the United States Environmental Protection Agency a study shows that since 1961, heat waves have increased from 1 to 3 days a year to 4 days a year and with a total of 49 more days of heat wave across the 50 states. Heat waves have also increased in intensity with “2.0°F above the local 85th percentile threshold in the 1960’s and During the 2020s, the average heat wave has been 2.3°F above the local threshold” (Climate Change Indicators: Heat Waves, 2022). If greenhouse gasses continue to rise, temperatures will continue to rise by at least 5 degrees F by mid-century (Heat waves and climate change, 2022).
Heat waves are dangerous because prolonged exposure to heat can cause heat strokes in the older population and well as the young which can lead to death and can cause skin cancer over time. With the increase in heat waves we are also seeing an increase in drought, forest fires, melting glaciers – which directly leads to the increase of sea levels, power outages, etc (Climate Change Indicators: Heat Waves, 2022).
As we fight to improve our climate and slow global warming for future generations , there’s really not much we can do for ourselves but adapt and learn new ways to cope with the consequences of our own careless mistakes. The first thing we need to do is to understand what heat waves really are, how dangerous they are, how even though it is the “new normal” there is nothing more abnormal than what we are experiencing and that heat waves are not beach days. As we learn how to deal with it, we need to build more green areas that offer shade, build infrastructure to protect railways and cables from melting, provide cooling centers and policies that protect outside workers (Mcfall-Johnsen, 2022).
- Environmental Protection Agency. (2022). Climate Change Indicators: Heat Waves. EPA. Retrieved November 3, 2022, from https://www.epa.gov/climate-indicators/climate-change-indicators-heat-waves
- Heat waves and climate change. Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. (2022, July 27). Retrieved November 3, 2022, from https://www.c2es.org/content/heat-waves-and-climate-change/
- Here’s how this year’s heatwaves are impacting the world, and how we can prepare for the future. World Economic Forum. (n.d.). Retrieved November 3, 2022, from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2022/07/heat-waves-climate-change-europe-northern-hemisphere/
- What is a heat wave? NOAA SciJinks – All About Weather. (n.d.). Retrieved November 3, 2022, from https://scijinks.gov/heat/