heat waves

Hot off the Press: The New IPCC Report

The latest science confirms the need for urgent action.

The IPCC issued the massive first volume of its new report on climate change on Monday. This volume focuses on climate science: how much will the world warm, and what will the impacts be?  The bottom line is that the evidence is becoming ever firmer that (a) humans are causing an unprecedented rate of climate …


Facing Up to Reality

More frequent heat waves. Droughts. Wildfires. The West is getting a glimpse of its future climate.

The western U.S. is staring climate change in the face. Most of the West is experiencing “severe” or “exceptional” drought. We could be heading into the worst drought period in centuries. Major dam reservoirs are down to record low levels. The region is also in the grips of a record-breaking heatwave.  We can expect another …


We’re Going to Need a Much Bigger FEMA

FEMA is built to handle one disaster at a time. That’s not going to work in the future.

“When troubles come, they comes not as single spies but as battalions.” That wisdom goes back to Shakespeare. Yet our disaster response system is keyed to handling single disasters, not clusters of major disasters.  That needs to change. This week is a good illustration.  We have fires in California that may set records.  We have …


Human Fingerprints on Australia’s Record Heatwave

Australia — or at least Australia’s current government — downplays the danger of climate change.   But, as a famous physicist once said, “reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.” Last summer in Australia (corresponding to the winter months up here) broke many, many records.  it was the hottest summer on record, …


Los Angeles Heat Waves, Electricity Use and Climate Change

It is 102 degrees in Los Angeles as I write this.  Not in the San Fernando Valley or in the communities east of Los Angeles whose temperatures are regularly several degrees higher but in downtown Los Angeles.  We’re in record heat territory and way above historical averages.  But temperatures aren’t the only records that are …


Heat Waves, Droughts, and the Energy System

According to the IPCC,  it “is very likely that hot extremes, heat waves, and heavy precipitation events will continue to become more frequent.” For instance, by midcentury, the number of heat wave days in Los Angeles is expected to at least double over the late twentieth century, and quadrupling is expected by the end of …


“Too Darn Hot”:The Summer of 2011 and the New Normal

DotEarth, the NY Times environmental blog, has a nice posting about how the current heat wave fits into climate-change predictions.  It seems clear that the “summer of 2011 is emblematic of the new climatological norms that are emerging as conditions neatly echo longstanding projections of the consequences of steadily raising the concentration of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.” …


Environmental Justice and Adaptation to Climate Change

I’m beginning to wonder whether we need an “Endangered People Act” to ensure that the most vulnerable get the protection they need from climate change impacts. Climate change will disproportionately affect vulnerable individuals and poorer regions and countries, as I discuss in a recent paper comparing adaptation efforts in China, England, and the U.S.  For …


The Reverend Bayes Visits Russia

In a post last week,  I discussed how Bayesian analysis could help with determining whether certain events are due to climate change — and by the same token, how events can help reinforce the evidence for climate change. The Russian heat wave is a case in point.  As the Economist explains: According to Geert Jan …


Heat Waves? Get Used to Them.

Last week the east coast sweltered.  Berlin reached 99 degrees and China experienced a heat wave through much of the country. This week it’s our turn in Southern California as temperatures reach triple digits. As I argued last week, when asked if these heat waves are related to climate change, the answer should be yes. …