The summer of 2017 has hit record breaking temperatures, rising above 100°F; climate change causing greenhouse gases being the main culprit. At the speed at which temperatures are soaring each year, it is likely that more than half of the Earth will be subject to unlivable conditions by the end of the century. Today, a third of the world is already being exposed to deadly heatwaves, the southwest region of the United States, in particular. Phoenix, Arizona reached a shocking 119°F on June 19th and Sacramento, California was close behind at 107°F. The National Weather Service (NWS) has even issued an excessive heat warning to these areas advising residents to drink more water, stay out of the sun, and recognize the signs of an oncoming heatstroke.
The heat has even affected travel. Airplanes, which are not built to withstand extreme heat, were grounded as upward temperatures decreased the air density. As this pattern continues, it is likely these systems will fail unless updated. Cities are now releasing modernized guidelines for engineers in order to develop infrastructures that can withstand flooding and increasing temperatures predicted to occur as soon as the year 2100. In a recent study published by the NWS, it was analyzed that over the past forty years, upwards of 90,000 heatwave related deaths have occurred in 36 different countries. On record, the hottest years to date are 2016 and 2017. We had experienced similar temperatures in 2003 during the European heatwave that affected over 10 countries; heat exhaustion, forest fires, and loss of crops were only some of the devastating effects. Because Europe had typically experienced mild summers, they were left without the knowledge or resources to battle the heat; upwards of 70,000 deaths were caused by overheating and dehydration.
The escalating heat will begin to echo what we saw in Europe over a decade ago, with temperatures ascending to points that we have not prepared to withstand. Working class areas will begin to be heavily affected due to the lack of air conditioning and less reliable power sources. The accelerated heat is only one of the many looming effects of climate change. Growing water levels are beginning to flood coastal cities and will likely place these cities underwater by the year 2100. The only way to reverse this, is to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases being released into the air in an effort to lower the Earth’s overall temperature. A simple way to contribute to the reversal of climate change is by switching your home’s power source to solar energy. Coal-based plants release tons of greenhouse gases into the air every day. If solar energy became the primary power source, air pollution would be cut by approximately 90 percent. Choosing renewable energy contributes to the reduction of the Earth’s rising temperature and to halting potentially fatal heatwaves in the near future.