What you need to know about heat waves – and why will they surprise you?

What you need to know about heat waves – and why will they surprise you?
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Climate change is real, and intense and increasing heat waves are part of that reality. But this is not the end of the story. Here are five things everyone should know about heatwaves – some bad news, some surprising news, and even some good news.

1) There is a strong link to climate change almost everywhere.

Heat waves, just like one Breaking temperature records across the UK and Europe This week, the weather phenomena scientists have most confidence in linking with human-induced climate change.

Using its strongest language in its most recent assessment, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated with virtual certainty that heat waves have become more frequent and more intense globally since 1950, and that the main driver of these changes is greenhouse gas emissions.

2) The connection is not as strong as in the United States.

It will probably come as a surprise to many, but the United States is one of the exceptions to the global trend. The IPCC has much less confidence in the upward trend of heatwaves in the Americas since 1900, and notes that large-scale agriculture and associated irrigation may have contributed to limiting the summer extremes.

Indeed, the US government’s most recent National Climate Assessment concluded that the frequency of US heatwaves has increased since the 1960s – but they have yet to reach levels observed in the first 40 years of the last century. And using an index first presented in a paper I co-authored, the US NCA concludes that the intensity of US heatwaves is well below what was observed in the 1920s and 1930s. No matter how hot it was today, it was even worse.

These are rarely seen in the United States.
Heatwaves are now hitting areas not traditionally covered by them, such as London.
Getty Pictures

3) No one needs to die of extreme heat.

Heat waves are common all over the world and only They rarely lived like London. This hard-won experience means we have developed a good understanding of how to keep people safe in extreme temperatures. A recent study of heat wave deaths in the US reveals that there has been a steady decline in risk since the 1970s, even as the population has grown and the incidence of heatwaves has increased.

Looking to the future, even if the IPCC predicts that heat waves will continue to increase, the World Health Organization argues that with appropriate adaptive responses, no one needs to die from heat. Of course, knowing what to do and doing are two different things, meaning we should prioritize better adapting to extreme weather conditions.

4) Heat waves will likely become more common and more intense.

This will come for more energy needs.
Air conditioning and other cooling mechanisms will become a more integral part of life.
AFP via Getty Images

Another place where the IPCC expresses its strongest confidence is that in heatwave projections, almost certain heatwaves will become more frequent and intense. He predicts these increases will occur in future scenarios with larger future emissions associated with a larger increase in heatwaves. This means that no matter how fast the world continues to move to reduce fossil fuel consumption, advanced adaptation will be needed no matter what.

5) The world will need a lot more air conditioners, which means a lot more energy.

means more heat more demand for air conditioner. The International Energy Agency estimates that there are approximately 2 billion air conditioners in the world today. That number is expected to nearly triple by 2050, with most of the growth in India, China and elsewhere. In the United States, approximately 90% of households already have air conditioning. In India, this is only around 5%, but will likely grow rapidly in the coming decades. More air conditioners means more energy consumption — the IEA estimates that 37% of the increase in electricity consumption by 2050 will come from cooling.

This increasing demand means we must prioritize both more efficient air conditioning technologies and more carbon-neutral energy supplies such as nuclear, wind and solar power. Until we do, we should fully expect fossil fuels to power increased air conditioning because we know that if the choice is between being hot and cold, people all over the world will choose cold, regardless of energy source, just as we did here. United States.

Heat waves are a reality. So, that too they will become more widespread and intense. This means that when heatwaves do occur, we need to redouble our preparedness efforts so that their damage is limited.

Roger Pielke Jr. He is professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. The Honest Broker writes on science, politics, and politics at

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