Latest posts by James H. Rust (see all)
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The U. S. is undergoing another of frequent heat waves this June-July and some in academia and media are suggesting the present heat wave is caused by global warming due to carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels — coal, oil, and natural gas.
Georgia Tech professor of city and regional planning Brian Stone wrote a July 7 guest column in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution titled “Atlanta’s heat raises red flags”. Professor Stone is the author of The City and the Coming Climate: Climate Change in the Places We Live, and has research supported by the Environmental Protection Agency and National Science Foundation. He points out “extreme heat in cities like Atlanta is a deadly serious problem” and the number of heat-wave days in “large cities has doubled since the 1950s.”
This certainly is an expected result, since the period from 1940 to the early 1970s was a period of global cooling in which the fashionable climate scare was an “impending ice age” aptly illustrated by 1974 issues of Time and Newsweek magazines. Equally important news is July temperatures have been warmer than December temperatures.
Professor Stone’s column possibly stirs up more worries than exist. Cold weather kills far more people in the U. S. than hot weather. Cumulative U. S. deaths from extreme weather events from 1979 to 2006 were 18,828 deaths due to extreme cold and 10,176 deaths due to extreme heat. Retirees leave New York and the Midwest to live in Florida and Arizona to escape the cold and live longer and more healthy lives.
The heat wave hitting much of the U. S. has tied or broken many records as reported by NBC News. The following statement was released 8:36 p.m. Sunday July 8 by MSNBC:
The heat wave has been near-unprecedented for several major cities, according to NBC News. In Chicago, the temperature reached 100 degrees for three consecutive days from Wednesday through Friday, which ties the records of July 3-5, 1911, and Aug. 4-6, 1947. St. Louis’ streak of 10 consecutive days of 100 or higher (June 28 through July 7) has only been topped by the Dust Bowl year of 1936 when the streak was 13 days. In Minneapolis, the mercury hit triple-digits on Wednesday and Friday at the Twin Cities International Airport; the last year there were at least two 100-degree high temperatures in the Twin Cities was 1988, when there were four. And Washington hit 100 on Sunday for the fourth consecutive day, tying a record set July 19-22, 1930.
Examining Atlanta temperature records reported by the AJC the past few weeks show most of Atlanta’s previous records occurred before 1945 and in particular 1936, a year of extreme heat over much of the country. In 1936 the population of the U. S. was 128 million, forty percent of today’s population. The population of Georgia was 3 million, Atlanta 290,000, and Metropolitan Atlanta 775,000. This compares to 2012 populations of Georgia 10 million and Metropolitan Atlanta 6 million.
Due to vast deforestation, large population growth, and increases in concrete and asphalt occurring in Metropolitan Atlanta from 1936 to 2012, it would make sense to conclude weather conditions that created temperatures of 100 degrees in 1936 would create temperatures of 105 degrees in 2012. In 1936, most climate scientists acknowledge carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels had insignificant influence on global warming. So why do 2012 heat waves differ from heat waves 76 years ago? Is it plausible to blame increased atmospheric carbon dioxide from after WWII to the present caused this heat wave?
The earth has a surface area of 200 million square miles and the affected area of the present U. S. heat wave is about 2 million square miles. Is it sensible to call this heat wave global? This July Eastern Europe and Australia are having below average temperatures.
Much publicity is given to the July 2010 heat waves across the Eastern United States and a large area surrounding Moscow, Russia. Fifty thousand heat related deaths were reported in Russia due to their lack of air conditioning and poor air quality due to extensive fires in peat bogs. The Russian heat wave would have been a common event in the U. S. South. With all the publicity given to the Russian heat wave was any attention given to the plight in South America?
By early August 2010, Bolivia had about 6 million water-dependent wildlife (fish, alligators, turtles, and dolphins) perish due to the cold. By August 1, Peru had 409 people die from cold weather when temperature dropped below minus 10 degrees F. Over one thousand head of cattle perished in Paraguay and two thousand head in Brazil. On July 14, temperatures in the hills of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil were colder than Argentina’s main polar base in Antarctica. Observations of NOAA temperature maps showed over 2 million square miles of South America affected by the cold wave. The U. S. media totally ignored record cold in South America.
On a global basis, annual large changes in weather patterns produce record high and low temperatures. Suggesting carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels is causing these changes is very tenuous when examining similar past events in times when carbon dioxide changes were not occurring.