Why you, and your wallet, might have to get used to heatwaves

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Sure, summer is “hot” at times for much of the United States, but a steady rise in average temperatures over the past few decades will push Americans to rethink how to keep the summer heat tolerable, fun, and most of all. , safe.

Humans, with our RB00 driving,
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flying, cooking and more have increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the air by 40% since the late 1700s. Other heat-trapping greenhouse gases, including methane emitted from agriculture or Natural gas extraction is also being added to pollution, although efforts are being made to curb these emissions. In total, GHGs have warmed the surface and lower atmosphere of our planet to about a degree over the past 50 years, says the Environmental Protection Agency.

Closer to the ground, that means summer has been a hotter trend, including this week in much of the United States. Since the 1980s, there have been three daily maximum temperatures for every two record lows in the United States.

Much of the Midwest and a southern strip were preparing for a potentially dangerous and deadly heat this week, with temperatures that could reach record highs in some places and combine with humidity to make it feel like 100 degrees or more. heat at some points.

More than 100 million people are expected to be affected in the middle of the week.

Doing overtime on the air conditioner, if you’re lucky enough to have it, can put a strain on your electrical grid and household budgets. It is an additional expense that affects, as recent readings of the consumer price index, which measure changes in the cost of food, housing, gasoline, utilities and other goods, increased by 8, 6% during the last 12 months, the maximum of 40 years.

The Tennessee Valley Authority, which serves 10 million people in Tennessee and parts of six surrounding southern states, said Monday it experienced record energy demand for a single day in June. He said it provided 31,311 megawatts of energy at an average temperature of 94 degrees in his region, which exceeded the previous June high of 31,098 megawatts set on June 29, 2012. to say that a similar demand could continue until the end of the week due to the warmer and wetter weather forecast.

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Since 1970, 96%, or 235 of the 246 locations in the United States, have had their average summer temperature rise, says Climate Matters, a nonprofit that brings together scientists with focused communications professionals. in science.

And 81%, or about 200, had seven or more summer days with higher-than-normal temperatures. The comparison was made with typical summer temperatures for a specific area spanning 1991-2020.

Nearly 40 U.S. locations had 30 or more summer days above the 1991-2020 average. Atlanta, for example, has been 31 days above what would be considered a toasted summer time since 1970.

The southwest is even hotter.

Central climate

Reads: Major U.S. cities labeled as dangerous “heat islands” include some surprises for small population

Isn’t it supposed to be hot in the summer?

Yes. But it is the frequency of heat waves and hot days, such as the typically temperate Northwest Pacific, that raises alarms.

The National Weather Service defines a heat wave as a period of abnormally hot and unusually humid weather that typically lasts two or more days. The World Health Organization defines it in terms of human health: prolonged periods of excessive heat resulting in dehydration, heat stroke, renal heart failure, and a number of heat-related illnesses that can lead to mortality.

By the way, vulnerable populations such as children, athletes, low-income households, outdoor workers and people with chronic illnesses are at risk of extreme heat.

Extreme or relentless summer heat can also aggravate poor air quality by trapping harmful pollutants near the Earth’s surface and creating ground-level ozone. These pollutants can aggravate respiratory problems in people with asthma and other lung diseases.

Between 1979 and 2018, more than 11,000 Americans died from heat-related illnesses, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. And in a recent study, researchers concluded that heat-related deaths in the U.S. could be “substantially higher than previously reported.”

Atlanta, for example, has been 31 days above what would be considered a toasted summer time since 1970.

Central climate

It treats heat like hurricanes

The Extreme Heat Resilience Alliance (EHRA), which was formed in 2000 and includes the Red Cross, large insurers and dozens of other members, has pushed for a standard practice of naming and classifying global heat waves. than tropical storms.

This means that communities and individuals can communicate about the emergency, prepare properly, and hopefully save lives.

This month, Seville, Spain, is about to become the first city to start calling for severe heat waves. Five more cities: Los Angeles; Miami; Milwaukee; Kansas City, Missouri; and Athens, Greece, have also begun piloting a similar initiative, using weather data and public health criteria to categorize heat waves.

reads: What if heat waves were called hurricanes? The new push attracts big insurers, mayors of Athens and Miami, the Red Cross and dozens of other stakeholders

What if it’s much hotter?

By the middle of the century, heat waves are expected to affect more than 3.5 billion people worldwide (1.6 billion people in urban centers) as they grow in frequency, duration, and intensity. As temperatures rise, the urban poor are likely to remain susceptible, suffering from a combination of medical conditions (e.g., cardiovascular or respiratory diseases) that are aggravated by heat, inadequate awareness of the risks of heat, and insufficient means to mitigate (e.g., heat costs). cooling measures such as air conditioning) the effects of high heat.

Beyond the threat to human life, economic and financial losses are significant. According to the International Labor Organization, the costs of low labor productivity due to rising temperatures are expected to reach $ 160 billion a year in lost wages in the U.S. by 2090.

Globally, GDP losses by heat are expected to exceed 20% by the end of the century.

Find out how your community handles extreme heat

The EPA maintains a database of community action measures that communities are taking to mitigate the heat island effect in their area.

Emergency management can help reduce climate risk in vulnerable communities. FEMA has a dedicated page with tools, data and resources on climate resilience.

And for state-specific emergency management information, search your state on USA.gov.

Reads: Was Kentucky’s deadly tornado due to climate change? It is complicated.’

Associated Press contributed.

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