(CNN) — Here’s a takeaway from the summer of 2023: The climate you grew up in is gone, replaced by something new and changeable, but also unchangingly different: where the Atlantic Ocean can reach the temperature of a hot tub. , heat is a recurring public health problem and people will have to adapt their way of life.
In this epically hot year, it’s time to start thinking about how the weather has changed, not the fact that it is changing.
ANALYSIS | The El Niño phenomenon + climate change = heat records
From a historical point of view, we are in uncharted territory. This is not just the hottest month in human history. It may be the hottest month in 120,000 years, according to scientists in Europe.
From the point of view of daily life, things are different
Nearly half of the United States is under a heat advisory this week, and the nation’s largest power grid was on alert.
Warnings that more fires, floods and storms will occur as the atmosphere warms are latent.
A large part of the country has seen smoke billow in and out of those Canadian wildfires. Tourists in Greece were forced to flee in the country’s largest evacuation.
Cities not used to flooding were under water this year in Vermont. Torrential rains flooded Fenway Park in Boston.
The same weather will not happen every year
The US West Coast, for example, has so far gotten a reprieve from wildfires thanks to epic rains earlier in the year.
But we can expect more heat more often. Asked by CNN’s Zain Asher about a heat index in Iran that approached 150 degrees Fahrenheit (65.5 degrees Celsius), Marina Romanello, executive director of the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change, said she will prepare for more. .
“What we know is that the heat will be much more intense, much more frequent, and that if we don’t act urgently to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, then the outlook will be very serious with, as you said, temperatures that exceed the limits of physiological survival.
Do we act urgently? Asher noted that California is phasing out sales of gasoline-powered cars. Romanello said the basic move would be to commit to phasing out fossil fuels. But countries are not yet on that path or even close to it.
When the new extremes come, they feel strong
Take a look at Arizona, where Phoenix has endured nearly a full month of 110-plus-degree days (43.3 degrees Celsius).
Cacti can’t stand the heat and die. Hospitals have been taxed. Doctors tend to people burned simply from falling to the ground, according to a CNN report.
The Phoenix area medical examiner brought in additional refrigerated containers for the bodies, as it did during Covid-19 spikes, to deal with potential overflow. Maricopa County has 25 heat-related deaths so far, but another 249 are under investigation.
Cities like Phoenix are urban hot boxes
The urban density that creates economic opportunities also makes cities hotter than their surroundings. There can be a variance of up to 8 degrees (Fahrenheit) between the parts of a city with trees and green spaces and those that are mostly paved.
“These giant temperature swings over short distances in cities, known as the urban heat island effect, make heat waves even worse,” writes CNN’s Rachel Ramirez of a new report from the nonprofit research group Climate Central. “Areas covered in asphalt, buildings, industry, and highways tend to absorb the sun’s energy and then radiate more heat, while areas with plenty of green space (parks, rivers, and tree-lined streets) radiate less heat and provide shade.”
Ramírez notes that cities are looking for new ways to adapt, like painting streets white in Los Angeles, painting roofs in New York and more.
in hot water
Coral reefs off the Florida Keys, unable to withstand the 100-plus degree Fahrenheit temperatures recorded in some areas, suffer a massive bleaching event, according to CNN’s Eric Zerkel, writing that experts were stunned by the escalation. two weeks that could kill some reefs.
That is a very real and grim consequence. More theoretical is the possibility that the series of currents that circulate water around the oceans simply collapse.
A study published in the journal Nature this week suggested that the Atlantic Southern Tilt Current, which includes the Gulf Stream, could collapse by 2025. Melting ice could dilute