Recent Temperatures Make Heat Wave History

The recent heat wave in the San Francisco Bay Area reached its peak this year when it exceeded all previously documented temperatures, affecting the towns around it and even our very own Monterey Bay. Contrary to California’s typically sunny, mild autumn days, such a heat wave as this poses a great threat to humans when temperatures skyrocket to such an extent. Analyzing the existence behind the anomaly, it is deducible that these extreme temperatures are a result of human-induced climate change. That being said, however, we turn our focus now not to the causes but to the threats that arise from these growing temperatures.

Many claim that these heat waves are merely the result of systems of higher atmospheric pressure which appear in certain areas cyclically, thus not placing the blame on humans. This argument is true to an extent; they are, in fact, recurring events that occur sporadically depending on the area. Heat waves have therefore always been a part of California’s weather – but there is evidence that points to their increasing intensity and frequency, which to many is a source of greater alarm. In 2006, the Environmental Health Perspectives reported another heat wave in California that, similarly, broke all previous heat records. To put this data into perspective, that means it was merely ten years ago that a “record-breaking” heat wave hit – and recent temperatures have yet again exceeded those of the aforementioned heat wave. So can one deduce that these recent heat waves were caused by human influence? An article from The Mercury News acknowledges the effects of climate change on heat waves:

“Climate change — the steady warming of the Earth from the burning of fossil fuels, which traps heat in the atmosphere — is making [heat waves] worse.  And brutally hot weather like this weekend’s heat wave is almost certain to become more commonplace in the coming decades.”

And furthermore, they continued to cite the irregularity of weather from the past until now:

“From 1950 to 1970, temperatures in Walnut Creek, for example, topped 100 degrees six days a year, on average. But from 2006 to 2016, there were nine days on average. And unless there are significant reductions in greenhouse gases, from 2030 to 2050 there will be 16 days a year over the century mark, and a sweltering 32 days a year by 2100, according to database of temperature statistics and carbon dioxide emissions scenarios built by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the University of Washington. The numbers are similar for every other major California city.”

These statistics further evidence the position that climate change, most notably rising temperatures, are human-induced, especially because there is no other indication of other potential influences with so great an impact on the weather. It is a growing concern amongst the environmentally-conscious whether or not these dangerous trends can be reversed – or perhaps, a better question yet, whether or not people are willing to try.