No climate change? The data says otherwise: July was the warmest month on Earth since 1850.
In Florida we’re used to heat, but this is getting ridiculous.
All across the world heat records are being set. And this is more than an occasional cycle; this is a result of a warmer globe.
The data is convincing — let’s just take the month of July as an example:
• July was the warmest month on Earth since 1850, reports Berkeley Earth, an independent climate monitoring organization; its data is based on thousands of surface monitoring stations worldwide.
• NOAA reports July marked the 415th straight month warmer than the 20th century average; in fact, according to NOAA, nine of the 10 warmest months of July have occurred since 2005.
• The excessive heat produced wildfires in the Arctic and Siberia — and Sweden recorded a 94-degree day north of the Arctic Circle.
It’s likely to get worse
Given such stark data — during just one recent month, mind you — it’s no surprise NOAA expects 2019 to be the second-warmest year since instrument records were kept.
Record heat and excessive heat waves are going to be the norm in Florida and the Southeast, reports the Union of Concerned Scientists.
If nothing is done to reduce carbon emissions, parts of South Florida will have several months a year when the temperature feels like 100 degrees. That’s a major health risk.
Each year about 650 Americans die — and 65,000 Americans visit emergency rooms — for heat-related illnesses, reports the Urban Land Institute in a report titled “Scorched.”
And what about the massive amount of lost labor productivity during hot days, especially in the construction industry? The financial impacts are being recognized by leading rating agencies like Moody’s; they are now downgrading bond issuers that don’t have sufficient adaptation and mitigation strategies for climate change.
The Urban Land Institute’s report goes into detail on strategies to mitigate the impact of heat in buildings and urban centers. Much of it just common sense, such as planting trees, increasing shade, using light colored and porous pavements, adding vegetation to roofs and walls.
A few other heat-mitigating highlights:
• In Miami, a 150,000-square-foot ribbon of steel, fabric and glass covers the Brickell City Center, shielding people from the heat and redirecting breezes through the site.
• In Memphis, huge awnings cover a pedestrian area of the Crosstown Concourse; it has played a role in generating $1.3 million in energy savings.
• In Dallas, a Hilton hotel redesigned an outdoor area with shade trees, light colored materials near a pool and shade and umbrellas.
• A building in Seattle is using “intelligent windows” with tinting that changes with the sun; it has resulted in an 18 percent reduction in energy use.
• In Houston, 175 shade trees were added to a narrowed Bagby Street along with heat-resistant pavers and rain gardens.
• In Fort Worth, four mechanically operated umbrellas provide shade at Sundance Square Plaza.
A version of this editorial first appeared in the Florida Times-Union.