US bakes in sweltering heat with ups and downs of federal climate action

The United States is roasting under an extended heat wave, with 28 states hit with heat warnings and most Americans exposed to temperatures above 90 degrees last weekend.

The deadly weather is harsh on its own, but it’s also a sign of what’s going to happen as the planet warms due to climate change.

The harsh circumstances highlight the inability of Congress to pass meaningful legislation to combat the issue.

“We’ll see worse than moving forward just because climate change will continue to make the planet warmer and warmer,” said Jonathan Overbeck, a climate scientist and dean of the School of Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan.

Over the past few days, temperatures across most of the country have hit triple digits.

In Texas, record temperatures are 115 degrees in Wichita Falls, with 110 other cities in the state and in Oklahoma.

Newark, New Jersey, Also set a new record At 102 degrees, with the temperature recorded at the city’s airport rising to exceed 100 degrees for five consecutive days.

Boston too Multiplying 100 degrees Sunday.

The heat was fatal in multiple locations. person Died from exposure to heat In New York City on Saturday, while Dallas County, Texas also A heat-related death has been reported last week.

Maricopa County, Arizona, confirmed 12 heat-related deaths between July 10 and July 16, though it’s not clear if the deaths actually occurred on those days or if they were just added to the state’s current totals during that period.

As of last week, Tulsa Emergency Medical Services were respond to 85 heat-related illnesses — which can include heat exhaustion or stroke — so far this month. Sixty of these people were hospitalized.

according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention600 people in the United States are killed each year by extreme heat, although other studies put the number much higher.

a Study 2020 Looking at counties that represent about 62 percent of the US population, I found that in those alone, there were an average of 5,608 heat deaths each year between 1997 and 2006.

Heat can negatively affect the cardiovascular and respiratory systems as well as the kidneys, said Chris Eugio, a professor at Florida State University, and that research is emerging on its effects on mental health and dizziness.

“It affects a variety of body systems,” Eugeo said.

Those most at risk are the elderly, people with pre-existing conditions, pregnant women, infants and young children, the homeless, and those who can’t pay for air conditioning and refrigeration, Uyggio said.

Mark Chinard, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, told The Hill that temperatures are linked to “extensive” weather patterns and high pressure.

It’s hard to determine whether or not climate change contributes to specific events, Chinard said, but that climate change increases the risks of heat waves in general.

“The general consensus is that climate change in general will lead to an increase in the frequency of heat waves across the country,” he said.

Overbeck, who also contributed opinion pieces to The Hill, similarly said, “It’s very clear at this point that humans play a role in making heat waves more frequent, hotter and longer, all things being equal.”

a Study 2021 He found that 37 percent of heat-related deaths during the warm season can be attributed to human-caused climate change. It also found that the increase in deaths “is evident on every continent”.

Extreme weather is shedding light on Congress, where Senator Joe Manchin (DW.Va) recently rolled back Democrats’ climate legislation after months of negotiations.

This legislation would have earmarked funding for tax credits that were expected to spur the deployment of clean energy. Lawmakers were also weighing charges on methane emissions for the oil and gas industry.

“I find it very frustrating,” Overbeck said when asked about the government’s inaction. “We really know at this point exactly what it is [happening] Why and we have solutions. We know that future generations will bear the brunt of the disaster we are creating.”

With the legislation in jeopardy, all eyes turned to the Biden administration, which could try to limit climate change through regulatory actions. But experts say so It will be difficult for the executive branch to compensate for the shortfall in reducing emissions caused by the legislative defeat.

Many climate advocates are also calling on the Biden administration to declare a climate emergency, which could do just that Unlock additional powers to face the crisis. So far, Biden hasn’t done so, but it’s not clear if he will eventually.

Meanwhile, Oyegio said, there are policies on the adaptation side that federal and state governments can pursue to limit the damage. He said it includes measures such as not allowing utilities to turn off power during extreme weather events.

“Recognizing that we have to adapt to some temperatures now and in the future… there are a variety of policies and programs that are cost-effective and can significantly reduce heat-related illnesses and deaths,” he said.