September 14, 2018

You’ve Heard of Snow Days, but Have You Heard of Heat Days?

Schools in the United States have a certain number of days they set aside for inclement weather. Ordinarily they have been used for snow days, heavy thunderstorms, and tornado warnings, but they may now be used for heat days.

In dozens of districts in New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey, schools that didn’t have adequate air conditioning closed early and canceled after-school activities. Teachers from these schools described temperatures surpassing 100 degrees. Due to the intense heat, students became lethargic and couldn’t complete their schoolwork. Schools in other regions not accustomed to extreme heat have also had to cancel school. As the planet gets steadily warmer, heat days could become a common occurrence.

World Hunger Has Spiked Due to Climate Change

The UN estimates that one in nine people were undernourished last year and that extreme weather influenced by climate change is a leading cause. The parts of the world most affected by this are Africa and South America, where food shortages and malnutrition are prevalent. There is enough food on the planet to feed everyone, yet 821 million people worldwide go hungry each year.

The severity of droughts and floods linked to climate change is wiping out crops and making access to water difficult. The accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere also directly harms crops like wheat, corn, and rice – major staples in regions that are most affected by these changes. Along with climate change and extreme weather, conflict and economic downturns also play a role in the global spike in hunger. More than ever it’s becoming clearer that it’s impossible to tackle hunger without also tackling climate change.

Hurricane Florence and Climate Change

Hurricane Florence made landfall along the coast of the Carolinas this morning. More than 1 million people have been advised to evacuate inland to a safer area. The storm has been brewing in the Atlantic Ocean over the past week and is expected to cause a lot of damage due to high winds and flooding. This latest hurricane shows a trend of mega hurricanes that have battered the coasts of the U.S. in recent years, as well as storms that have wreaked havoc in other parts of the world.

A team of researchers used climate change models to compare the intensity and frequency of hurricanes from the 20th century to hurricanes that are expected to develop later this century. They concluded that hurricanes in the future will intensify at much faster rates and that more category 4 and 5 hurricanes will be commonplace. The explanation can be directly tied to climate change because the rising climate is making oceans warmer and tropical storms draw their energy from warmer waters. If these studies prove to be true, that spells trouble for coastal communities around the world due to increases in flooding.