Michael Mann: ‘That Heat Dome? Yeah, It’s Climate Change’

June 30, 2021

As weather/climate change has become a major, near-continous, much-copious series of news stories, this a fortuitous film moment in Kansas:

Not much information beyond the video — did find this via Yahoo: ‘In the midst of heavy rain, a car was suddenly struck by lightning in Waverly, Kansas. A father, mother and children were inside the car, but no one was hurt.
Added report — there were apparently two children.

An incident of escape that reminded me of one tenant of Champlain Towers, the Florida condo that collapsed last Thursday — in a not-normal move, he spend the night with his girlfriend (The Washington Post):

Erick De Moura woke up at about 5:30 a.m. Thursday to use the bathroom. He was at his girlfriend’s house — a rare occurrence on a weeknight — and walked into the kitchen to get his phone.
That’s when he saw all the calls and text messages.

One text in particular stood out — it was from Rochelle, a doorman supervisor at his building on Collins Avenue in Surfside, Fla., asking if he was okay.

“Oh, my God, you’re alive,” Rochelle said to De Moura, 40, when she answered his call.
“What do you mean I’m alive?” he responded in a sleepy haze.
“The building collapsed,” she said.

And the rest is a movie plot — go read the whole piece. An odd, good note to a tragic horror, one that most-likely can be tied directly/indirectly to climate change. A bond with the awful ‘mega-heat wave’ thats making life a miserable hellhole for the last couple of weeks, and is right-now killing people.
And there are links from this heat — not only blistering the NW, but also cooking the eastern shore of the US, not as scorching as the western bake, but bad — to climate change that’s been forecast for years and years.
Last night, again from The Washington Post:

But on a warming planet, it does seem increasingly par for the course.
“Many have expressed shock about this unprecedented heat wave. Yet the writing has been on the wall for decades,” wrote the Capital Weather Gang’s Jason Samenow.
“Since the 1970s and 1980s, climate scientists have warned that global warming would make heat waves more frequent, long-lasting and intense.”

Still, the current wave is startling.
“Meteorologists estimated that a heat dome of this size and scope is so rare it should be expected only once every several thousand years,” wrote my colleagues.
“But human-caused warming makes extremes like this more common, scientists say. Unless people drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the coming years, this heat wave doesn’t represent a ‘new normal’ but rather a worrying taste of the effects to come.”

And it’s coming, especially in places it shouldn’t be, yet — this on the subject of great heat:

Centuries?’ I don’t think so, not the rate we’re going. Some info on the ongoing event in the Pacific Northwest/Canada via the BBC this morning:

Police in the Vancouver area have responded to more than 130 sudden deaths since Friday.
Most were elderly or had underlying health conditions, with heat often a contributing factor.

Canada broke its temperature record for a third straight day on Tuesday — 49.6C (121.3F) in Lytton, British Columbia.

The US north-west has also seen record highs — and a number of fatalities.

Experts say climate change is expected to increase the frequency of extreme weather events, such as heatwaves. However, linking any single event to global warming is complicated.

US President Joe Biden said the heatwave was tied to climate change in a speech on Tuesday as he pitched a plan to update the country’s infrastructure network.

The heat over western parts of Canada and the US has been caused by a dome of static high-pressure hot air stretching from California to the Arctic territories.
Temperatures have been easing in coastal areas but there is not much respite for inland regions.

Before Sunday, temperatures in Canada had never passed 45C.

Today is also a mark-start — the annual North American wildfire season begins. Biden called it as he met at the White House with governors of western states along with fire officials: ‘“Climate change is driving the dangerous confluence of extreme heat and prolonged drought. We’re seeing wildfires of greater intensity that move with more speed and last well beyond traditional months, traditional months of the fire season.”

Biden is no expert, and he’s describing reality, but a long-time expert has once again dropped the future way of the planet — Michael E. Mann, noted climatologist and geophysicist, and director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, has co-written an op/ed showcasing our environment operating with loaded dice:

Mann’s co-writer is Susan Joy Hassol, director of the nonprofit organization Climate Communication, and works with the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s SciLine on the connections between extreme weather and climate change. The piece ran yesterday in The New York Times — some snips:

The western United States is currently under the influence of an epic heat dome, an expansive region of high atmospheric pressure characterized by heat, drought and heightened fire danger.
It’s being called a once-in-a-millennium event, which means you might have expected to witness it once during your lifetime — if you happen to be Methuselah of biblical fame.

All bets are off when one accounts for human-caused warming. It no longer makes sense to talk about a once-in-a-century or once-in-a-millennium event as if we’re just rolling an ordinary pair of dice, because we’ve loaded the dice through fossil fuel burning and other human activities that generate carbon pollution and warm the planet.
It’s as if snake eyes, which should occur randomly only once every 36 times you roll a pair of dice, were coming up once every four times.

Might a heat dome have developed out West this past week without climate change? Sure.
Might it have been as extreme as what we’re witnessing without climate change?
Almost surely not.

Yes, the dice have been loaded, and not in our favor. If climate change were a casino, we’d be hemorrhaging cash.
Wildfires, heat waves, floods and superstorms, many exacerbated by climate change, collectively cost the United States nearly $100 billion in 2020.
As the climate advocate Greta Thunberg so poignantly put it, “Our house is on fire.”

We’ve long known that a warming climate would yield more extremely hot weather.
The science is clear on how human-caused climate change is already affecting heat waves: Global warming has caused them to be hotter, larger, longer and more frequent.
What were once very rare events are becoming more common.

Heat waves now occur three times as often as they did in the 1960s — on average at least six times a year in the United States in the 2010s.
Record-breaking hot months are occurring five times more often than would be expected without global warming. And heat waves have become larger, affecting 25-percent more land area in the Northern Hemisphere than they did in 1980; including ocean areas, heat waves grew 50-percent.

Terrible as that is, I would wager a dice toss, that we’re fucked … and sooner than later…

In a swing-note of the ‘fortuitous‘ clip at the top — crashes can be more than a strike:

Oh now feel it comin’ back again
Like a rollin’ thunder chasing the wind
Forces pullin’ from the center of the earth again
I can feel it

(Illustration out front by Handoko Tjung, found here).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.