Einstein said you don’t really understand something unless you can explain it to a six-year-old. We know some pretty brainy six-year-olds.
What is causing the freaking heat surges all over the world? Hottest-ever-on-record temperatures aren’t really the heat’s fault, per se. Heat, for its part, would like to head on out of our atmosphere – but manmade fossil fuel (carbon) emissions shoot carbon dioxide pockets into the air by the trillions on trillions. C02 traps heat and won’t let it escape.
This phenomenon is referred to as “greenhouse gas” emission because the same premise is used to control the tropical, balmy environment sealed inside a greenhouse.
NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies has kept an ongoing record of temperatures since the beginning of the Industrial Age in England (marked in 1880). The earth warmed 1.7F (1.2C) between 1880 and 1975. But since 1975, warming has occurred much faster.
Current back-to-back heatwaves are happening because the earth’s global temperature has risen by about 2.2°F since 1975 – that’s 1.5°F more than the previous 100 years added. At the COP26 United Nations climate summit in November 2022, delegates agreed that 2.7°F should be the hard cap permitted by 2030, but civilized nations aren’t even close to that kind of containment and studies in August 2021 predicted a 3.7°F increase is more likely by 2040.
Scientists and current recorded, experienced weather patterns affirm that continued ignition of fossil fuels guarantees we are on a path to overheat the planet for our children and theirs. Look at July 2022: heavy rains and floods in the U.S. and Pakistan; deadly landslides in India; wildfires in Spain, France and the UK; extreme heat across Europe and a volcanic eruption in Japan.
Meantime, exclusive data obtained by The Guardian (UK, May 2022) reveals the world’s dozen biggest oil and gas firms have “started scores of short-term expansion projects [called ‘carbon bombs’] that will emit greenhouse gases equivalent to a decade of CO2 production from China, the world’s biggest polluter.” These companies are betting civilization won’t change to cut carbon emissions.
We’re betting they’re wrong. But while larger implications are being sorted, we want to help you stay cooler right now.
Here are some immediate tips to help control the temperature inside your home, though staying indoors carries risks, too, for instance when a building is heavily insulated or windows are only on one side; and germs are more communicable indoors. The New York Times and A Case for Women advise:
- Turn off unnecessary lights.
- If possible, shade or cover windows that are exposed to direct sunlight and use shutters if you have them. While blinds or curtains are cheaper options and easier to install, they are also less effective at keeping the heat out. Dark curtains and blinds made of metal can also make a room hotter.
- If the air outside feels cooler than inside, open the windows and try to get air flowing.
- Use a fan to circulate the air.
- In the kitchen, where there are multiple sources of heat, double check that refrigerators and freezers are working properly.
- Unplug small appliances when not in use.
- In the evening and overnight, when temperatures may dip, open windows to allow cooler air to move in, or temporarily relocate to a cooler part of your home for a more comfortable sleep.
- Hose your outdoor AC unit with a broken stream, not a solid stream.
- Shade your outdoor AC unit with an umbrella so it doesn’t have to work as hard.
- Paint the roof white.
- Grow ivy on exterior walls (takes a season to catch hold).
- If you have a basement, make it livable.
This Time It’s Global.
Greenland’s speculated warming phenomenon 1,000 years ago was localized. In July 2022, while the U.S. Northwest sweltered, London and Hamburg crashed their previous all-time highs at 104°F. The European heat wave “bulldozed them,” said Simon Lee, an atmospheric scientist at Columbia University.
These cities share latitudes with Canada (Calgary and Edmonton), and both are within miles of the cold North Sea. They are nothing like dusty, landlocked U.S. cities to the south; therefore, comparable temps are relative.
If, for instance, the temperature in Madrid is 105°F, it feels like 120°F in Phoenix; 91°F in Dublin feels like 127°F in Phoenix; 104°F in London feels like 129°F in Phoenix; 104°F in Hamburg is like 128°F in Las Vegas.
Let’s get going on that ivy?