Earth’s record hot streak might be a sign of a new climate e

Posted on May 9, 2024

According to Washington Post (4/29/24) reporter Sarah Kaplan, for nearly a week at the beginning of April, the temperature in Bamako hovered above 110 degrees Fahrenheit. The cost of ice spiked to 10 times its normal price; an overtaxed electrical grid sputtered and shut down.

With much of the majority-Muslim country fasting for the holy month of Ramadan, dehydration and heat stroke became epidemic. As their body temperatures climbed, people’s blood pressure lowered. Their vision went fuzzy, their kidneys and livers malfunctioned, their brains began to swell. At the city’s main hospital, doctors recorded a month’s worth of deaths in just four days. Local cemeteries were overwhelmed. Cont.d

The historic heat wave that besieged Mali and other parts of West Africa this month — which scientists say would have been “virtually impossible” in a world without human-caused climate change — is just the latest manifestation of a sudden and worrying surge in global temperatures. Fueled by decades of uncontrolled fossil fuel burning and an El Niño climate pattern that emerged last June, the planet this year breached a feared warming threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. Nearly 19,000 weather stations have notched record high temperatures since Jan. 1. Each of the last 10 months has been the hottest of its kind.

The scale and intensity of this hot streak is extraordinary even considering the unprecedented amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, researchers say. Scientists are still struggling to explain how the planet could have exceeded previous temperature records by as much as half a degree Celsius (0.9 degrees Fahrenheit) last fall.

What happens in the next few months, said Gavin Schmidt, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, could indicate whether Earth’s climate has undergone a fundamental shift — a quantum leap in warming that is confounding climate models and stoking ever more dangerous weather extremes.

But even if the world returns to a more predictable warming trajectory, it will only be a temporary reprieve from the conditions that humanity must soon confront, Schmidt said. “Global warming continues apace.”cont’d

Categories: News Release