Hot Summer for Climate Events

In our neighborhood, the first several weeks of this summer were very temperate. Comfortable sunshine during the day, with cool evenings; refreshing showers came every few days. Admiring the flourishing flower beds on the block, one of our neighbors observed: “So much for global warming.”

She was tempting fate, which was all too happy to respond. The next month was brutal: oppressive heat and no precipitation. Lawns were parched, and foliage retreated. While local gardeners were disappointed, they should count themselves lucky: residents of many parts of the world have been dealing with climatic extremes that are far worse than we have experienced.

Hot summer days and periodic fires and floods are not new, and it is not appropriate to blame every one of them entirely on climate change. But extremes are becoming more common, a trend that the vast majority of scientists attribute to mankind’s impact on the environment. While the worst consequences of climate change are decades into the future, it is having a marked impact on commerce and the quality of life in the present day.

If you have been sweating through the summer, you are not alone. July was the warmest month on record globally, continuing a string of new records that have been set in the last decade. Within the last two months, all-time record highs have been set in the United States, Italy, and Antarctica, among other places.