State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

As Global Warming Fuels Record-Smashing Heat Emergencies, Cut Vulnerability Now and CO2 Always

The following is an excerpt from a Sustain What blog post.ย 

What a summer it has been so far in the Northern Hemisphere, with more unprecedented heat waves, fires (and storms) ahead.

Even as the central and southern plains and Southwest in the United States once again face a sustained extreme heat dome, triple-digit temperatures following earlier heat waves have, as predicted, triggered dozens of fires in Southwestern Europe. A thousand deaths from heat have been reported so far in Spain and Portugal, and true numbers always lag.

Britons are bracing today for the highest temperatures in centuries of record keeping. On Monday, the Columbia University climate scientist Simon Lee tweeted this observation about Britain’s Met Office, the country’s weather and climate agency: “In 2020, the @metoffice produced a hypothetical weather forecast for 23 July 2050 based on UK climate projections. Today, the forecast for Tuesday is shockingly almost identical for large parts of the country.”

comparison with 2050 forecast and 2022 reality
Source: UK Met Office

The off-the-scales heat across Europe has already triggered a host of dramatic incidents, including ice avalanches Italy and Kyrgyzstan.

There’ve been so many toppled heat records, so many headlines and red alerts โ€” not to mention climate-policy defeats โ€” that there’s a risk of more of the paralytic “psychic numbing” I wrote about recently in the context of both climate change and pandemic losses โ€” and just when engagement and acton are most needed.

So where do you start?

Read the rest of the story here.

Columbia campus skyline with text Columbia Climate School Class Day 2024 - Congratulations Graduates

Congratulations to our Columbia Climate School MA in Climate & Society Class of 2024! Learn about our May 10 Class Day celebration. #ColumbiaClimate2024

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