Lazy Caturday Reads: Heat Wave

Good Afternoon!!

Here in Boston, today could be the hottest day of the year so far and tomorrow will likely be about the same. We may hit 100 degrees and it will feel even hotter. The Boston Globe published some “heat hacks” to help people cool down. Here are a couple of examples:

If you’re tossing and turning in bed and having trouble falling asleep in the blistering heat,Consumer Reports offers this interesting trick: Put your sheets and pillowcases in a sealable plastic bag and stash them in the freezer so they’ll be nice and cold when you hit the hay….

New York State Office for the Aging suggests…“Fill three plastic soda bottles full of water, freeze them but in a manner to not damage them (liquid expands on freezing), then place them in a large bowl,” the agency’s website states. “Position a fan to blow on them.. … The water in the bottles can be refrozen and used repeatedly.” [….]

Seattle City Light suggests putting lotion and moisturizers in your fridge to cool down your skin.

I might try that last one. This reminds me of the scene in The Seven-Year Itch when Marilyn Monroe explains how she keeps her panties and potato chips in the fridge next to the champagne.

USA Today: Searing heat across nation, reaching 100 degrees in some spots, takes its toll on events and roads.

A relentless heat wave gripped the country from the central states to the East Coast Saturday, prompting cancellation of the New York City Triathlon and producing cracked and buckled roads in some Plains states. Some East Coast cities braced for temperatures in the triple digits.

As the stifling heat — expected to affect 200 million people — settled in for at least a fifth day, the National Weather Service issued an Excessive Heat Warnings and Heat Advisory from parts of the Texas Panhandle to the Ohio Valley, around the Great Lakes, parts of the Mid-Atlantic and in the Northeast.

An Excessive Heat Warning is issued when the combination of heat and humidity is expected to make it feel like it is 105 degrees or greater.

Daytime temperatures in the mid to upper 90s or higher plus high humidity will result in heat indices as high as 115 for some, forecasters said.

Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York and Boston were bracing for weekend temperatures in the triple digits. New York City and Baltimore were under a Code Red Extreme Heat Alert that is expected to continue through Sunday.

“It’s been since July of 2012 that Chicago and Philadelphia both hit 100 degrees, and Washington, D.C., hasn’t hit 100 since August of 2016,” says AccuWeather Meteorologist Danielle Knittle.

In addition, forecasters warned that overnight temperatures were not likely to fall far enough to bring relief, pariticularly in larger cities, like Chicago, St. Louis and New York City.

CBS News is posting live updates: Massive heat wave blamed for at least 6 deaths.

Dr. Christopher Rodriguez, the district’s director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, said officials will be monitoring the dangerous temperatures from an operations center.

“This is going to be one of the most severe heat events that we’ve had in the last several years,” Rodriguez said.

While midwestern cities like Milwaukee and Chicago will be affected, the East Coast is expected to take the brunt of it. Temperatures are expected to range from the mid 90’s to the triple digits, with the heat index making it feel as hot as 100 to 115 degrees.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warned the heat can be a silent killer. Doctors are warning to watch out for signs of heat illness. Symptoms can include headache, muscle cramps, nausea. another sign is a lack of sweating.

Vox: The worst part of a heat wave is when it doesn’t cool off at night.

Extreme heat is one of the deadliest weather phenomena in the world. There are direct health effects like heat stroke, which occurs when body temperature rises to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, leading to organ failure, and heat exhaustion.

But high temperatures can also worsen conditions like high blood pressure and can limit the effectiveness of certain medications. Heat can also exacerbate air pollution, which in turn can send people to the emergency room due to breathing problems….

While it may cool off after the sun sets during a heat wave, it may not cool off enough for people who have been exposed to high temperatures all day. That leads to a higher cumulative exposure to heat.

One study examining the 2003 heat wave in Europe that killed upward of 70,000 people found that nighttime temperatures were a key indicator of the health risk from high temperatures. There’s also research that shows high nighttime temperatures disrupt sleep. Without relief from the heat, the stresses on the body mount.

Over the weekend, forecasters expect evening temperatures will stay above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, with the heat index remaining above 90 degrees, in some areas along the East Coast. That will make it hard for some to cool off. Health officials advise staying hydrated, wearing light clothing, and avoiding the outdoors.

It’s worse if you live in a city.

Part of the reason temperatures stay high after sunset in many parts of the country is because of the urban heat island effect. Dense cities with their concrete, steel, glass, and asphalt soak up more heat than their rural surroundings, causing temperatures to rise further than they would have otherwise during the day. In the evening, those artificial surfaces continue to dissipate their accumulated heat, keeping denizens from keeping cool.

Our efforts to keep cool can also paradoxically make cities heat up. Air conditioners venting hot air outside can contribute to urban warming, and if the electricity that powers them comes from fossil fuels, they can increase the amount of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere.

At The Atlantic, Robinson Meyer writes that “July 2019 is likely to be the hottest month ever measured.”

For the next several days, a vast blanket of oppressive heat will smother the eastern two-thirds of the United States, subjecting tens of millions of people to searingly hot days and forbidding, unrelenting nights. From the southern Plains to New England, inescapable humidity will meet broiling air to produce heat indexes in excess of 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

We are not simply talking about a series of sweltering afternoons. Even hours after the sun sets, air temperatures could hang well above 90, dipping below the 80-degree mark only in the moments before dawn. The heat index in some big cities—including New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.—may sit above the mid-80s for 72 hours straight.

“July is shaping up to be the warmest July on record—and probably the warmest month ever measured, since July is the hottest month of the year,” Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist at Berkeley Earth, told me. “Obviously, we still have half the month to go. But so far, it’s on track.” (Since most of the planet’s land surface is north of the equator, and since land heats up faster than the ocean, the Northern Hemisphere’s summers are the hottest months of the year for the whole planet.)

If that mark is realized, then two months in a row will be the hottest of their type ever measured, since last month was the hottest June ever recorded. And the odds are good that 2019 will be the second-warmest year on record, Hausfather told me. Either way, it’s a near-certainty that the past six years, including this one, will be the hottest six years ever measured.

And yet the Republican Party refuses to acknowledge the causes and effects of climate change.

Today might be a good time to refer back to David Wallace Wells’ 2017 article at New York Magazine. The Uninhabitable Earth: Famine, economic collapse, a sun that cooks us: What climate change could wreak — sooner than you think.

It is, I promise, worse than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible, even within the lifetime of a teenager today. And yet the swelling seas — and the cities they will drown — have so dominated the picture of global warming, and so overwhelmed our capacity for climate panic, that they have occluded our perception of other threats, many much closer at hand. Rising oceans are bad, in fact very bad; but fleeing the coastline will not be enough.

Indeed, absent a significant adjustment to how billions of humans conduct their lives, parts of the Earth will likely become close to uninhabitable, and other parts horrifically inhospitable, as soon as the end of this century.

Even when we train our eyes on climate change, we are unable to comprehend its scope. This past winter, a string of days 60 and 70 degrees warmer than normal baked the North Pole, melting the permafrost that encased Norway’s Svalbard seed vault — a global food bank nicknamed “Doomsday,” designed to ensure that our agriculture survives any catastrophe, and which appeared to have been flooded by climate change less than ten years after being built….

But no matter how well-informed you are, you are surely not alarmed enough. Over the past decades, our culture has gone apocalyptic with zombie movies and Mad Max dystopias, perhaps the collective result of displaced climate anxiety, and yet when it comes to contemplating real-world warming dangers, we suffer from an incredible failure of imagination. The reasons for that are many: the timid language of scientific probabilities, which the climatologist James Hansen once called “scientific reticence” in a paper chastising scientists for editing their own observations so conscientiously that they failed to communicate how dire the threat really was; the fact that the country is dominated by a group of technocrats who believe any problem can be solved and an opposing culture that doesn’t even see warming as a problem worth addressing; the way that climate denialism has made scientists even more cautious in offering speculative warnings; the simple speed of change and, also, its slowness, such that we are only seeing effects now of warming from decades past; our uncertainty about uncertainty, which the climate writer Naomi Oreskes in particular has suggested stops us from preparing as though anything worse than a median outcome were even possible; the way we assume climate change will hit hardest elsewhere, not everywhere; the smallness (two degrees) and largeness (1.8 trillion tons) and abstractness (400 parts per million) of the numbers; the discomfort of considering a problem that is very difficult, if not impossible, to solve; the altogether incomprehensible scale of that problem, which amounts to the prospect of our own annihilation; simple fear. But aversion arising from fear is a form of denial, too.

Wells has expanded this article into a book The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming. You might also want to check out his article archive at New York Magazine.

So I wrote a whole post without talking about the monster in the White House. If you really want to read some politics stories, check these out:

Alex Shepard at The New Republic: It’s Not Strategy, It’s Racism.

Jamelle Bouie at The New York Times: The Joy of Hatred. Trump and “his people” reach deep into the violent history of public spectacle in America.

CNN: Judge halts Democrats’ subpoenas of Trump Org docs in emoluments case.

The New York Times: Mueller Hearings on Wednesday Present Make-or-Break Moment for Democrats.

NBC News: Mueller hearings to highlight ‘shocking evidence of criminal misconduct’ by Trump, Democrats say.

NBC News: U.S. spy chief creates a new head of election security for intelligence agencies.

HuffPost: Trump Puts More GOP Money In His Own Pocket During Another Million-Dollar Golf Trip.

The Washington Post: Trump tells aides to look for big spending cuts in second term, sowing confusion about budget priorities.

The Washington Post: Iran seizes British tanker in Strait of Hormuz; denies Trump’s claim that drone was brought down.

The New York Times: U.K. Warns Iran of ‘Serious Consequences’ for Seizing Oil Tanker.

What stories are you following today?

38 Comments on “Lazy Caturday Reads: Heat Wave”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Stay cool this weekend, Sky Dancers!

    • Enheduanna says:

      U 2 BB! Thanks for the round-up and more adorable kids with kitties! Also the non-Dump focus…

      This gave me a chill:
      “Either way, it’s a near-certainty that the past six years, including this one, will be the hottest six years ever measured.”

      It brings to mind Al Gore’s hockey-stick graph. I feel like we’re just waiting for the dam to break. Anyway I hope you have A/C – I know a lot of ya’ll don’t up there. I hope Dump roasts and gets sun-poisoning (what we Southerners call heat exhaustion) playing golf. Trust me it’s awful – the nausea especially.

      What’s freaky – here in ATL it’s balmy. The high predicted for Tuesday is 78. Otherwise mid-80s which is very mild for summer here.

  2. leegschrift says:

    Something is gonna change. It’s gonna be a warm hot summer. Thank god I am in Holland!

  3. bostonboomer says:

  4. dakinikat says:

    here you go … stay in doors BB!!

    • dakinikat says:

      and even weirder it is 73 here which is really really oddly cold for us for daytime in July

      • quixote says:

        Specifically night time and high latitude warming is a major signature of human-caused warming. In the good old days, plenty of people were still trying to pretend it was just some natural cycle or the sun going through a period of radiating more energy (like that would hit only Earth and not the other planets :rolleyes:). Scientists pointed out that the degree of high latitude warming was one way to distinguish our warming from anything natural.

        60-70F higher than normal in the Arctic while Atlanta and New Orleans are balmy is like a huge red flashing billboard saying *man made*. (Yes, I’m using gendered language because it’s true in this case.)

        • NW Luna says:

          Nighttime warming if the temperatures are staying higher. Then you have to account for the warming effect of growing areas of concrete and other human occupancy.

          High latitude warming wouldn’t occur without the rest of the world warming also. But the high latitudes getting warmer are a huge threat because that’s where the ice is, which starts melting and so increasing the sea level.

  5. NW Luna says:

    Weather is not climate! The NE US gets a heat wave and the media thinks it’s the whole damn country. Meanwhile Seattle’s had the coldest and rainiest July in a long time, and other areas are normal or cooler than normal (like NOLA). We need to look at the overall trend over a few decades and ignore the short-term fluctuations.

    Yes, climate change is real, and yes, overall the Earth is slowly getting warmer over time. But the media is calling wolf too often over short-term conditions which are usually well within the range of normal fluctuation.

    Another example — Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Wyoming are in the midst of the strongest summer jet stream ever observed over the Pacific Northwest. Yikes! It must be climate change! Except … research indicates that just the opposite will happen as the Earth warms. Science. It’s complicated.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I don’t think I was doing that. I certainly wasn’t making that argument. I understand that weather isn’t climate, but the trends are very concerning. This will be the hottest July on record world-wide, which follows the hottest June on record. According to that very well researched article I posted from 2017 (you can examine the scientific research in the annotated version), we should be much more concerned that we are.

      BTW, it’s not just the east coast. The Midwest is also having record high temps.

      • bostonboomer says:

        We also had a very cool spring and early summer here and we have had historical amounts of rain this year.

      • NW Luna says:

        Yes I did write that the trend is what’s important. Did anyone read that? Or notice that I said that climate change is real?

        Two months of hottest on record is only two months in 1 year. That’s not a very large sample — that’s why you have to look at the overall trend over decades. Holding up a few days or months in 1 year to say there is a trend is not a good scientific argument.

        Just because climate change is indeed real doesn’t mean we should be sloppy with our evidence. Grabbing on to short-term weather statistics and claiming that’s evidence for climate change is sloppy reasoning.

        The media uses sloppy reasoning frequently, but we shouldn’t.

        • bostonboomer says:

          Sorry Luna. I don’t disagree with you at all. I just meant that my post wasn’t meant to claim that this weather proves something about climate change. To be honest, I wrote about this because I couldn’t stand to write about Trump.

          • NW Luna says:

            Oh, OK, sorry I misunderstood.

            It is nice to read something that’s not about Trump! I’m feeling more anxious all the time.

    • quixote says:

      Luna, strong jet streams with high amplitude swoops toward the equator and poles are a hallmark of climate change. The situation specifically in the Pacific Northwest, which is what you’re probably talking about?, based on Cliff Mass?, is specific to that region. There’s a cold marine current there and the Rockies complicating matters. It’s one of the reasons I tell my friends asking, “Zomg! Where to go for climate refugees?” that the Pac NW is a better bet than, say, Arizona. (Some eyerolling there, of course. It’s all one planet. And the only one we’ve got, no matter what Elon Musk thinks.)

        • quixote says:

          No, Luna. Just no. Maybe once we’re at Venus levels, but even then, you’ll notice Venus has 400 mph winds. The consensus I’ve seen in the climate science literature is that the added energy causes stronger and more erratic jet streams. I’ll go and read your references and see what they’re saying.

          [Added on July 27th when I had a chance to look at the sources. It should be a response but apparently replies get turned off after a while so I’m just adding it as an edit to mine.]

          Cliff Mass is talking about one jet stream event in the Pacific Northwest. Of course that’s not the same as the general topic of climate change-induced jet stream patterns. He doesn’t provide a link to the Jennifer Francis article he mentions. But a search for her work turns up, e.g., Evidence for a wavier jet stream in response to rapid Arctic warming:

          Abstract. New metrics and evidence are presented that support a linkage between rapid Arctic warming, relative to Northern hemisphere mid-latitudes, and more frequent high-amplitude (wavy) jet-stream configurations that favor persistent weather patterns. We find robust relationships among seasonal and regional patterns of weaker poleward thickness gradients, weaker zonal upper-level winds, and a more meridional flow direction. These results suggest that as the Arctic continues to warm faster than elsewhere in response to rising greenhouse-gas concentrations, the frequency of extreme weather events caused by persistent jet-stream patterns will increase.

          Which is what I’ve also read from other climate scientists.

        • NW Luna says:

          I’m still deferring to the meteorology prof.

      • NW Luna says:

        The Rockies aren’t in the PNW. Do you mean the Olympics and the Cascades?

        And please don’t send more people here!

  6. Joanelle says:

    BB, I just love the kid pictures, thank you so much, they brought a big smile to this ole gal’s face.
    Can trump get any lower? He has worked diligently to eliminate the work being done to save the bees. Even kids know that without honey bees our food will be depleted
    Does this man ever read ANYTHING of substance, he continues to push the move of our top scientists to Missouri, if they don’t want or can’t move some of our greatest scientific minds will be let go (fired.)
    It never ends. He has to be ‘let go’ 😡

  7. Joanelle says:

    It’s 103 in northern NJ right now, but, oh, there is no global warming. Right?

  8. dakinikat says:

    I was watching Rachel last night … maybe I should consider a bee hive in my backyard!

    Bees Declared To Be The Most Important Living Being On Earth

    The bees have been declared the most important living beings on this planet, the Earthwatch Institute concluded in the last meeting of the Royal Geographical Society of London. However, according to wildlife experts and scientists, the bees have joined the endangered species long list.

    The recent studies show a dramatic decline of the bees’ number as almost 90 percent of the bee population has disappeared in the last few years. The uncontrolled use of pesticides, deforestation or lack of flowers are the main reasons for their extinction.
    However, why would such a little being be named the most important creature on Earth? Well, the answer is actually more simple than you ever thought. Seventy percent of the world’s agriculture depends exclusively on bees. Needless to mention the pollination is the bees’ job, although the plants would not be able to reproduce, therefore the fauna would have been gone in a very short time. More than that, a study conducted by the Apiculture Entrepreneurship

    Center of the Universidad Mayor (CeapiMayor) and the Apiculture Corporation of Chile (Cach) with the support of the Foundation for Agrarian Innovation (FIA) concluded that the bees are the only living being who does not carry any type of pathogen.

    After all, Albert Einstein’s say about bees has never been truer. “If the bees disappear, humans would have 4 years to live,” the famous physicist said.

    Since the bees’ importance is crucial in our planet’s ecosystems and they’ve also been declared an endangered species, we really need to be as careful as possible on the matter. And we need to act quickly as we still have some solutions.

    • NW Luna says:

      Bet you’ll love keeping bees! I kept honeybees for several years. They are fascinating creatures. Few things are as soothing as sitting by a hive in the sun listening to the hum of honeybees and watching them fly in and out, and watching the squad of fanners on their hive’s porch fanning their wings furiously to keep air circulating on hot days and get the humid air out of the hive as nectar concentrates down to honey. Unfortunately, where I live now has too small a yard for me to be able to keep bees and meet city regulations for spacing from the property line.

      I thought it was about 30% of our food depended on pollination by honeybees. I wonder if they confused pollination by honeybees with pollination by other pollinators — butterflies, flies, moths, wasps, yellowjackets, hornets, etc.

      Wish the article was more detailed. “Bees” could be honeybees, or any of the hundreds of other bee species — bumblebees, mason bees, and the like.

      They”…bees are the only living being who does not carry any type of pathogen”
      Hmmm, wonder if this is a mistranslation? Bees definitely do carry pathogens. Honey Bee Pathogens are a Threat Year Round — Entomological Society of America. Bacterial pathogens of bees — Science Direct.

      A big threat to honeybees over the last couple of decades –aside from pesticides and habitat destruction — is the influx of Varroa mites. Beekeepers have had a third to all of their hives wiped out in some years from the mites. What’s promising is research on resistant varieties, since we don’t want to add to problems by using more pesticides.

      I seem to be in a ‘critique the media’ mode today.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Do hummingbirds help with pollination?

        • NW Luna says:

          They do! I should have listed birds.

          Birds are very important pollinators of wildflowers throughout the world. In the continental United States, hummingbirds are key in wildflower pollination. In other areas, honeycreepers (Hawaii) and honeyeaters (Australia) are important pollinators. In addition, brush-tongued parrots (New Guinea) and sunbirds (Old World tropics) serve as tropical pollen vectors.

          Also …

          Bats! Most flower-visiting bats are found in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands.
          Two species of nectar-feeding bats, the lesser long-nosed bat and the Mexican long-tongued bat, migrate north a thousand miles or more every spring from Mexico into Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Both are listed as federally endangered species.

          And reptiles, slugs, and lemurs!

          I started to look around and found this interesting Forest Service site which talks about pollinators. That’s where these links are from.

          • quixote says:

            In case anyone really does start keeping bees, I found this fascinating link about the effortless beehive: a so-called flow hive. They’re made so the honey can flow out of the frame when it’s full, so not nearly the same amount of slopping around. I’m looking forward to trying it when I get a chance!

          • NW Luna says:

            Interesting. I’ve got a small extractor (really it’s a centrifuge but for some reason they’ve been misnamed extractors) and although it can be somewhat messy it’s straightforward if you’re organized.

            My first reaction is plastic comb foundation, ugh. I didn’t and won’t use plastic in my hives. As for “hands-off” beekeeping, you still have to take the frames out and check that the cells are capped. If they’re not, the nectar hasn’t reached honey consistency yet and will be watery. Then if the comb cells are split lengthwise, the bees have to remake the cells (‘draw out’ the wax cells) all over again. Regular honey harvesting just involves slicing off the caps so the bees don’t have to build up much before using them. The frames are 2 – 3 x more expensive.
            OTOH, if it does work as advertised without any of the above problems it could be a timesaver. There’s still the plastic problem, though that doesn’t bother some beekeepers.

    • NW Luna says:

      • dakinikat says:

        Just another reason to hate Trump … and it’s probably because Obama found their plight especially compelling and used to read the science produced by the Ag Dept Scientists.

  9. NW Luna says:

    That photo of the tea party (milk party?) with the child, cats, teddy bear, and dog up above is so cute!

  10. bostonboomer says:

    I wonder how they got the kittens to sit still?

    • NW Luna says:

      I wondered that too. The dog, yes, it’s easy to teach dogs to sit. But those cats, on their little chairs! Probably there were quite a few exposures trying to get the right moment.