Extreme Weather Sets Records and Grips Globe

By Peter Melahn, Copy Editor

An unprecedented degree of scorching heat and raging floods continues to plummet major parts of the world into dangerous conditions. Millions of people across the globe are experiencing the effects of climate change throughout this summer.

The latter half of July saw record-breaking temperatures as well as historic lows in many cities around the world. Preliminary data from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) shows that the Earth recorded what were likely its hottest days in modern history in the early half of July after the planet’s hottest June ever.

The cyclical weather pattern El Niño, along with emissions of heat-trapping gasses, are believed to have exacerbated the latest events, as it comes from the outset of warmer sea temperatures. However, scientists have forewarned that the situations observed throughout the globe will not go away when El Niño departs. 

“We are in uncharted territory, and we can expect more records to fall as El Niño develops further and these impacts will extend into 2024. This is worrying news for the planet,” Christopher Hewitt, the head of international climate services for the WMO, said. The organization warned of increased risk of death to extreme weather events in mid-July.

As the skies of the Midwest became clouded by soot and smoke, the realities of climate change became ever visible for many Americans. For much of the summer, cities such as New York City, Chicago, Toronto and Detroit experienced some of the most polluted air on Earth because of smoke drifting from Canadian wildfires.

In July, flash flooding in the Northeastern U.S., particularly in Vermont and parts of upstate New York, have paralleled record flooding in India from lingering monsoon rains.

In recent weeks, a so-called heat dome has scorched the central and western parts of the U.S. and set new temperature records throughout those parts of the country. In addition to those already dwelling in American cities, it is reported that more than 100 migrants have died from heat at and around the U.S.-Mexico border so far this year.

Intensifying heat waves in Europe, the Middle East and China have also left many adapting to the effects of climate change.

In the past two weeks, Maui, Hawaii has experienced historic fires. The death toll continues to rise with most recent counts topping 100.

 Additionally, Hurricane Hilary made landfall in California early this week while being downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone classification. 

In the wake of a summer of harsh climate disasters which appear to be getting more and more frequent, scientists fear that this year’s unexpected climate change-related events have been more violent and devastating than what was once expected. 

When explaining how rising water temperatures affect coral reefs off the coast of Florida, ​ecologist Derek Manzello from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration summarized peoples’ fears.

“We’re entering uncharted territories,” he said.