he key findings in the 2022 edition of the World Metrological Organization’s (WMO) State of the Climate in Europe report, produced jointly with the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S*), paint a sombre picture for Europe last year. According to the findings, Europe is the fastest warming of all the WMO regions, warming twice as much as the global average since the 1980s. What’s more, high-impact weather and climate events in 2022 resulted in over 16,000 reported fatalities, of which 99.6% were attributed to heatwaves.
In 2022, the annual average temperature in Europe was between the second and fourth highest on record, depending on the data set used, and for many countries in western and south-western Europe last year was the warmest year on record. According to the report, which was presented at the 6th European Climate Change Adaptation Conference (ECCA2023) in Dublin on 19 June, the summer of 2022 was the warmest on record and Europe experienced several exceptional heatwaves over the summer months, the most severe of which occurred in mid-July, with record-breaking temperatures in many locations, including the United Kingdom where the temperature exceeded 40°C for the first time.
Today, New Orleans will reach 113 degrees in the heat index. Houston will reach 111. Mobile, Ala., and Jackson, Miss., will also surpass 110. And those are only a few of the places that will experience dangerous heat this week.
Summer technically just began, and parts of the U.S. are already seeing the unusual heat that experts warned about and that is becoming more common as a result of climate change. About 45 million people — or 14 percent of the U.S. population — live in areas that are expected to reach dangerous temperatures in the coming days.
Today and tomorrow, the heat will be concentrated in Texas, Louisiana and parts of the South. By the end of the week, it is expected to spread in the South and to the West, as these maps show:
The heat index measures not just temperature, but how hot it really feels outside by taking into account humidity as well. (Heat index forecasts are typically accurate for the next day, but become less reliable as they project further into the future.) If you’re in any of these major cities, here’s what you can expect:
• In Houston, the index is forecast to peak at 111 degrees this week before falling to 106 by Sunday.
• In New Orleans, the heat index will hit 111 degrees today, climb to 115 by Thursday and remain above 110 for the week.
• Jacksonville, Fla., will peak at 106 degrees today on the index and gradually climb until it hits 109 this weekend.
• In Bakersfield, Calif., the heat index will climb above 100 on Friday.
When the index measures anywhere from 103 to 125 degrees Fahrenheit, experts label it as dangerous heat. Such temperatures carry a higher risk for cramps and exhaustion as well as heat stroke, particularly after exercise or long stretches in the sun.
The heat has already resulted in tragedies. On Saturday, a 14-year-old hiker fell ill and died at Big Bend National Park in Texas as temperatures reached 119 degrees Fahrenheit. His 31-year-old stepfather crashed his car and died while seeking help.
The two may not have been the only heat-related deaths in Texas last week, my colleagues Jacey Fortin and Mary Beth Gahan reported. In Dallas, a postal worker collapsed and died while on his route during an excessive heat warning. Officials are investigating whether the heat was a cause.
A hotter normal
This week’s heat is likely just the beginning. Meteorologists predicted a hotter-than-normal summer this year, particularly in the West, Southwest, South, and Northeast. El Niño, a Pacific weather pattern, could send global temperatures even higher.
Climate change is one reason for the rising heat. Summer temperatures have steadily increased over the past three decades. A warming climate will push those temperatures higher, resulting in more and worse heat waves, wildfires and other extreme weather.
It is too late to reverse those trends for the current and next few summers, but you can take steps to protect yourself. For one, watch for dangerous heat in your area and respond accordingly: Stay inside, drink enough water and avoid direct sunlight or outdoor exercise.
(WFLA) — It’s quite the claim: This week, Earth broke an unofficial record for its hottest day in 120,000 years. Actually, the Earth broke that record three times — on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, according to the University of Maine’s Climate Reanalyzer.
El Niño (a natural cycle) is just getting started. As it gets stronger, and adds more heat to Earth’s system, this summer will continue to set new all-time global records for hot days. And along with that, many other records will be shattered as well.
But no matter how hot it gets, the summer of 2023 will soon be considered a “cool” summer in a couple of decades amid the steady drumbeat of human-caused climate heating.
When will El Niño peak?
How can experts be so confident of these bold assertions? As a climate specialist, I’ll do my best to explain. It’s all fairly simple — and fully expected — by the climate science community.
First, researchers know using observations that temperatures over the past decade have been warmer than any ever seen since record-keeping began in the 1800s. Since then, Earth has warmed by 1.2 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit).
Scientists also know through sophisticated methods of examining copious climate clues in proxy data like tree rings, ice cores, ocean sediments, etc. that Earth’s average temperature has not been this warm since the ice age ended 20,000 years ago.
The message is quite simple and stark, when seen on the visual below. Earth’s temperature has skyrocketed since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, and it’s projected to keep climbing.
The rate of warming today is unprecedented in the 20,000 years shown. In fact, coming out of the last ice age, it took 10,000 years for the Earth’s average temperature to warm 3 degrees C.
Astonishingly, humans — due to the burning of fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions — will likely cause the same amount of warming in 200 years. That means our current warming rate is 50 times that of the natural warming rate that proceeded the most recent ice age.
Between 10,000 years ago and today’s rapid man-made warming, Earth’s average temperature was relatively constant, allowing human civilizations to thrive. There were disruptive regional cooling episodes like the disparate Little Ice Age events, but the impact on overall global temperature was relatively minor.
Since at the peak of the last ice age, Earth’s average temperature was about 10 degrees cooler than today, and it has not been this warm since before the last ice age. We call that time the “last interglacial” (in-between glacial periods) which peaked around 125,000 years ago.
Proxy data shows that the average global temperature during the last interglacial was about 1 degree Celsius warmer than today. During that time, scientists estimate the sea level was 30 feet higher than today. With continued warming, the past warns that future generations may very well have to deal with that same kind of rising sea level.
What U.S. cities will look like with sea-level rise, according to scientific projections
In fact, the Earth can expect to gain another degree of warming by mid-century, putting it on par with the temperatures of the last interglacial. And by the end of the century, if carbon emissions aren’t curbed, we may very well experience the hottest temperatures in over 1 million years.
But taking a step back, warming trends post-2050 are a lot more uncertain. That’s because it’s not entirely possible to know how much humans will reduce emissions. It’s also hard to be certain of the Earth’s system feedbacks to warming temperatures. Earthlings, too, may embark on some sort of geoengineering project to try to reduce warming.
The latest estimate, assuming current government policies on emissions, is that Earth is set to warm ~2.7 degrees C by 2100. But betting on governmental policies is a big assumption, and significantly greater warming is possible if emissions continue as they do now.
Admittedly, this may all seem hopeless. But unlike a terminal illness, we know exactly what the problem is, we know exactly how to fix it, and we have all the solutions we need now. What is required is that we pay attention and get serious — quickly. Our future depends on it.
Hey Frank, forgive me if someone has already asked, but...
Have you seen the movie Don't Look Up? and if so, what did you think about it?
False claims suggesting that the BBC has been misreporting temperatures in southern Europe have been spreading on social media.
A clip of Neil Oliver, a GB News presenter, accusing the BBC "and others" of "driving fear" by using "supposedly terrifying temperatures", has been viewed more than two million times.
For the past few weeks, an intense heatwave has been sweeping through parts of southern Europe and north Africa, with extensive wildfires breaking out in Greece, Italy and Algeria - leading to more than 40 deaths.
Speaking about the fires on Rhodes on GB News on Monday, Mr Oliver accused the BBC, and other broadcasters, of trying to "make people terrified of the weather".
"Those supposedly terrifying temperatures that were being predicted, all starting with a four... 40 this and 40 that... were obtained using satellite images of ground temperatures," he said.
"That's never been the temperature that's used in weather reporting and forecasting.
"On the contrary, those figures are the air temperature, a couple of feet above the ground surface ...the true temperatures, the air temperatures which actually happened, were in the 30s."
Mr Oliver's claim that the BBC was using ground temperatures is false, as several BBC weather presenters have pointed out.
BBC Weather bases its temperature reporting and forecasting on air temperatures.
For his other claim, that "true temperatures" were in the 30s, Mr Oliver didn't specify exact locations, but on Monday 24 July several places across Europe recorded air temperatures over 40C.
Lamia in Greece experienced an air temperature of 45C, as did Figueres in Spain (45.4C) and Gythio in Greece (46.4 °C) in previous days.
GB News did not respond to the BBC's request for a comment about Mr Oliver's clip. Mr Oliver has also been approached for comment.
How the BBC reports temperatures
BBC Weather - in keeping with other broadcasters and weather services - relies on temperature measurements taken in line with internationally agreed standards.
These are taken using thermometers that measure temperatures in the shade with a free movement of air.
For that reason, thermometers are placed inside Stevenson screens - purpose-built, white-slatted boxes at a height of 1.25m to prevent direct heat from the ground and other hard surfaces from affecting any reading.
The air temperature measurements taken in countries affected by the heatwave will have been obtained using instruments and methods approved by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), of which the UK is a member.
Ground temperatures can be measured by thermometers and by satellites. On average, they can to be 10-15 degrees higher than air temperatures.
But these are not used in the BBC's weather reporting and forecasting.
Other claims about high temperatures
Some social media users have attacked BBC Weather forecasts, suggesting the reporting does not match real temperatures.
An air temperature of 48.2C was recorded in Jerzu, in Sardinia, Italy on Monday - the highest temperature in Europe so far this year.
BBC Weather was one of many news outlets reporting this record. But some social media users suggested the reports were inaccurate.
Screenshot of a tweet alleging discrepancies in the BBC's reporting of high temperatures in Europe
Robin Monotti, a film-maker with more than 81,000 followers on Twitter, claimed the BBC's reports were not backed by evidence.
But data from Sardinia's own Regional Agrometeorological Service confirms the high temperatures reported.
Contacted by the BBC, Mr Monotti directed us to the Italian Meteorological Service's website, which listed different temperature readings for that day in Jerzu.
However, none of those readings were taken in Jerzu itself, but instead in nearby municipalities (with the nearest of those more than 13 miles away).
He then alleged that the equipment to get that particular temperature reading did not abide by international standards.
But Sardinia's Regional Agrometeorological Service makes clear on its website that its weather stations are operated according to WMO recommendations.
And the WMO also told the BBC that the temperature of 48.2C registered in Jerzu is consistent with data from other stations across Sardinia.
But it added that any temperature record is provisional until recognised by national or regional authorities, and ultimately by the WMO.
Forecasting the weather
Weather forecasts are produced using complex computer models and updated once maximum temperatures have been reached.
Forecasters aim to get as close as possible to the actual temperatures.
Small variations in atmospheric conditions can make a significant difference to the weather which has been forecast.
A forecast temperature within a range of two degrees of the measured reading is considered by most meteorological organisations to be accurate.
But even if forecasts for cities or entire regions are correct, they do not always reflect small, local variations in temperature.
BBC Weather forecast temperatures of 47C on the Italian island of Sicily on 19 July.
A number of Twitter users, including Mr Monotti, claimed that the BBC's own weather website listed a much lower temperature of 37C in Palermo, the Sicilian capital.
Palermo's location meant the city remained cooler than other parts of the large Mediterranean island.
According to Sicily's Agrometeorological Information Service, the highest temperature recorded on that day was 44.8C in the municipality of Francofonte.
Conservative groups have crafted a plan for demolishing the federal government’s efforts to counter climate change — and it wouldn’t stop with President Joe Biden’s policies.
The 920-page blueprint, whose hundreds of authors include former Trump administration officials, would go far beyond past GOP efforts to slash environmental agencies’ budgets or oust “deep state” employees.
Called Project 2025, it would block the expansion of the electrical grid for wind and solar energy; slash funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s environmental justice office; shutter the Energy Department’s renewable energy offices; prevent states from adopting California’s car pollution standards; and delegate more regulation of polluting industries to Republican state officials.
If enacted, it could decimate the federal government’s climate work, stymie the transition to clean energy and shift agencies toward nurturing the fossil fuel industry rather than regulating it. It’s designed to be implemented on the first day of a Republican presidency.
“Project 2025 is not a white paper. We are not tinkering at the edges. We are writing a battle plan, and we are marshaling our forces,” said Paul Dans, director of Project 2025 at the Heritage Foundation, which compiled the plan as a road map for the first 180 days of the next GOP administration. “Never before has the whole conservative movement banded together to systematically prepare to take power day one and deconstruct the administrative state.”
The initiative has previously drawn attention for its efforts to prepare a systematic conservative takeover of the federal bureaucracy, in contrast to the perceptions of chaos that marked much of former President Donald Trump’s term. Those include plans to assemble a database of as many as 20,000 people who could serve in the next administration — “a right-wing LinkedIn,” as The New York Times described it in April — and proposals to impose sweeping Oval Office control over spending decisions, civil service employees and independent federal agencies.
But its implications for U.S. climate policy — at a time of record heat waves sweeping the globe — have drawn far less attention.
The comprehensive plan covers virtually all operations of the federal government, not just energy and climate programs.
It’s much more ambitious than the pledges that all the Republican presidential primary candidates have made so far to roll back Biden’s signature climate law. It also wouldn’t simply nullify Biden’s climate executive orders, something that a Republican president could easily do just after taking office.
Instead, the ideas laid out in Project 2025 show that conservative organizations want to achieve a more fundamental shift — moving federal agencies away from public health protections and environmental regulations in order to help the industries they have been tasked with overseeing, said Andrew Rosenberg, who was a senior official at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration during the Clinton administration.
“What this does is it basically undermines not only society but the economic capacity of the country at the same time as it’s doing gross violence to the environment,” said Rosenberg, who’s now a senior fellow at the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey School of Public Policy.
The proposals are laser-like in their precision. They also indicate that Republican operatives learned a lesson from the chaotic nature of the earliest days of the Trump administration, when former Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was fired from overseeing the transition, said Neil Chatterjee, who chaired the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission under Trump.
“Even if we lose the election and don’t get the opportunity to govern, I still think this defined strategy is important because we know what we’re for and what we can showcase to the American people even if we’re out of power,” said Chatterjeee, who was not involved in the plan. “We can say this is what we would do, this is how we would handle these really complex issues.”
A plan to deconstruct the government is just the beginning of what Republicans will expect from their presidential candidate, said Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker who crafted a sweeping “Contract With America” on the way to the GOP takeover of Congress in the 1994 elections. Releasing it before the primary race heats up can give people “time to absorb the new idea, think it through and then embrace it.”
“What you’re about to see is a dramatic shift in the landscape of solutions away from the Left and toward a kind of creative, governing conservatism,” Gingrich (R-Ga.) said.
More than 400 people participated in crafting Project 2025’s details. Former Trump administration officials played a key role in writing the chapters on dismantling EPA and DOE.
The plan to gut the Department of Energy was written by Bernard McNamee, a former DOE official whom Trump appointed to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. McNamee, who did not have regulatory experience, was one of the most overtly political FERC appointees in decades. He was a director at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank that fights climate regulations, and was a senior adviser to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
McNamee outlines cutting key divisions at DOE, including the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations and the Loan Programs Office. He has called climate change a “progressive policy.”
He also calls for cutting funding to DOE’s Grid Deployment Office, in part to stop “focusing on grid expansion for the benefit of renewable resources or supporting low/carbon generation.” Instead, he calls for strengthening grid reliability, which he describes as expanding the use of fossil fuels and slowing or stopping the addition of cleaner energy. Part of his plan includes a massive expansion of natural gas infrastructure.
“Prevent socializing costs for customers who do not benefit from the projects or justifying such cost shifts as advancing vague ‘societal benefits’ such as climate change,” McNamee wrote in the report.
McNamee did not respond to requests for comment.
Preventing the expansion of the electric grid would slow down renewable energy projects, threatening U.S. climate goals while cooling the sector’s economic growth, said Mike O’Boyle, a senior director at the nonpartisan policy firm Energy Innovation and head of its electricity program.
“If we totally step away from the role of the federal government, our economy is going to miss out in a big way because the rest of the world is moving on climate, so they’re poised to reap the benefits both for their energy consumers but also in terms of manufacturing,” he said.
‘A conservative EPA’
Mandy Gunasekara, who was EPA’s chief of staff under Trump, wrote a chapter within the plan to move the agency away from its focus on climate policy and reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
It outlines eliminating or downsizing agency functions including the Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights, the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assistance, and the Office of Public Engagement and Environmental Education. It also would also relocate regional EPA offices and would “downsize by terminating the newest hires in low-value programs.”
The overarching theme in remaking federal agencies is to shift power away from the federal government and toward states, in an effort to diminish regulations.
“The challenge of creating a conservative EPA will be to balance justified skepticism toward an agency that has long been amenable to being coopted by the Left for political ends against the need to implement the agency’s true function: protecting public health and the environment in cooperation with states,” Gunasekara wrote.
She declined to comment for this story.
But that increase in state power wouldn’t apply to California, which has a history of setting more aggressive environmental standards than those of the federal government under a Clean Air Act waiver. The Project 2025 plan would “ensure that other states can adopt California’s standards only for traditional/criteria pollutants, not greenhouse gasses.”
Another key goal is to restructure how EPA uses science, particularly research that supports regulations by showing risks to public health from industrial pollution. The plan would require scientific studies to be “transparent and reproducible,” making it impossible to use key public health studies that rely on private data that cannot be disclosed to the public.
As part of that effort, one idea is to offer incentives for the public “to identify scientific flaws and research misconduct,” which might encourage opponents of regulations to target research.