Scientists Measure Heat Added by Climate Change in Days

Researcher laments the toll on humans and nature
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 29, 2024 6:40 PM CDT
Scientists Measure Heat Added by Climate Change in Days
Police officers deliver an air conditioner purchased for two elderly sisters they found sweltering inside their 114-degree home in July in Surprise, Arizona.   (Surprise Police Department via AP)

Humans have endured the equivalent of another hot month in the past year because of climate change, scientists say. Their analysis shows that almost 80% of Earth's population dealt with at least 31 days of abnormally high temperatures since last May, the New York Times reports. The burning of fossil fuels is a major cause, says the report, which was released Tuesday. An abnormally hot day was considered one in which the temperature topped 90% of the daily temperatures at that place between 1991 and 2020. A typical person lived through 26 more such days in that year than they would have if the climate were not changing.

For Americans, the average was 39 days; the total tops 100 days in parts of the Southwest and Northwest. "That's a lot of toll that we've imposed on people," said Andrew Pershing, one of the researchers. "It's a lot of toll that we've imposed on nature." Pershing pointed out that the burden in parts of South America and Africa exceeds 120 days. The analysis was conducted by Climate Central, the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Center, and World Weather Attribution, a scientific initiative, per the Times. (Alarms are being raised about the increase in carbon dioxide levels.)

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