Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Killer Heat Waves

New Delhi road melting.
Temperatures in India are exceeding 110oF, the highest recorded during this heat wave is 117oF (47oC). But that is air temperature in an elevated shaded weather station. The ground temperature in full sun, especially black tarmac, will exceed 200oF, easily cooking eggs and melting asphalt.

And killing humans, over 1100 so far in India. Killer heat waves are an increasing phenomena on this relentlessly warming planet.
  • 1980 - US Midwest - Twenty consecutive days of temperatures exceeding 100oF killed over 1700 people and destroyed over $20 billion in crops.
  • 1995 Chicago - Just five days of 100oF killed over 750 people in Chicago alone.
  • 2003 Europe - A massive, once in a millennium, heat wave spread across the continent killing over 75,000 people.
  • 2006 Europe - A second, once in a millennium, heat wave struck Europe again. There were far fewer deaths this time in part because of efforts taken by governments to prevent deaths but mostly because many of the most vulnerable had already died three years earlier.
  • 2010 Russia - Record shattering heat, a third once in a millennium heat wave even worse than the one that hit Europe in 2003, killed over 50,000 Russians.
  • 2013 China - The worst heat wave in Chinese history struck that year. Chinese history goes back 3000 years.
  • 2013 India - India had another killer heat wave just two years ago that killed over 500 people.
This is hardly a comprehensive list. Killer heat waves have been hitting Africa but few outsiders have noticed. When a heat wave was killing peasants in Brazil in 2014 it was only reported in the United States regarding the price of coffee. Each year, Australia breaks new heat records. Even Antarctica is seeing record breaking heat, while it is not killing humans there it is killing plankton which feed fish that feed humans.

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