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All the Record Heat



In case you want to feel depressed, you can follow the monthly updates at Gizmodo as the Earth keeps breaking its all-time heat records. This will end well.

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  • Jackov

    Sure but it’s a dry heat.

    • Gregor Sansa

      I was going to comment that 120 is still deadly even if humidity is low, you’re drenched in water, and you have a fan pointing at you. But I looked up wet bulb temperatures and actually if you’re wet with a fan on you, you can survive up to almost 50% humidity at 120 F. Which is higher than I expected. So just carry a bucket of water and pour some on your head every minute or two and you’ll be fine.

      • tsam

        “There are levels of survival we’re prepared to accept…”

        • Sev

          The Scandinavians should do just fine. After a nice outdoor sauna, they can go roll around in their walk-in freezers.

      • Jackov

        The new Ice Bucket Challenge brought to you by
        the fossil fuel industry and first world consumption.

        • DrS

          The hardest part of the new ice bucket challenge is locating a bucket of ice.

          • Jackov

            Which is why you need ten strong men.
            Four to carry the palanquin, two to fan you
            and four to search for ice. Yet people still
            worry about a jobless future for the proles.

          • Bill Murray

            nah, you can make ice in the desert fairly easily. You need to thermally isolate the water from the ground, and expose water in the pan after dark in a low humidity environment. Under most conditions, the radiation heat transfer between the ambient water temperature and the deep space temperature that constitute the two parts of the radiation heat transfer equation leads to sufficient heat loss that the water will freeze.


  • calling all toasters

    Those Chinese are really going all-out in faking global warming.

    • postmodulator

      I thought it was an Andy Kaufman prank.

  • Philip

    I’m glad I’m not in SoCal anymore.

  • tomscud

    So my vague understanding is that climate scientists don’t think it’s physically possible for us to go the full Venus (surface temperature > 212 degrees F). Is that still the case?

    Asking for a friend.

    • Francis

      My understanding is that we’d long all be dead before we can have extracted enough CO2 out of the ground to create the runaway effect found on Venus.

      At the current rate, we are seriously looking at making big areas of the planet literally unliveable in the next 50 – 70 years. Please let me know how India and Pakistan (likely first on the list) will handle having to surrender territory to the heat.

      • tomscud

        Well, they can always go up to the hill stations, right?

      • making big areas of the planet literally unliveable in the next 50 – 70 years

        I don’t think it’s even going to take that long. Big chunks of the already scorching Middle East might have heat waves that prevent people from going outside *at all* in the daytime as soon as next decade, and it’s only going to get worse.

        The scariest thing going on right now is the refugee crisis in Europe. The EU is struggling mightily to deal with refugees equal to something like 0.2% of its population, but as the UN or anyone else will tell you, we’re at the start of a very steep “displaced persons” curve. When people start leaving Bangladesh or Nigeria en masse . . .

        • Moondog

          Mass migrations will create instability everywhere.

    • Philip

      Too far out from the Sun. If my quick math is right, we only get in the range of 37% the energy-per-surface-area that Venus does. So the point at which we’d radiate more than we received is much lower.

      • tomscud

        So even if we give it our all we probably won’t be able to avoid a hundred thousand survivors in fishing villages in the arctic somewhere, then?

        • rea

          If we haven’t killed all the fish, first.

        • Philip

          Oh, no, eventually the acidified oceans will kill off our last sources of food, don’t you worry.

          • BigHank53

            Don’t forget the storm systems the 140-degree tropics will be able to generate. There you are in your plucky little village in the TransAntarctic range, minding your own business, when a hurricane packing F4 winds shoves a 50-foot storm surge up your fjord and sweeps away your fishing fleet, while your huts all get blown a couple miles up the valley.

            • As a former across-the-bay neighbor of the Royal Society range of the Transantarctic mountains, I think the huts would be fine. Any hut that lasted more than a year would have survived a few herbies*. The boats, yeah the boats would be boned, but the waves from the herbies, and the sea ice sloshing around would have crushed them too. Unless they built each one like an icebreaker which aside from the expense probably has a whole host of other problems that haven’t occurred to me.
              *Hurricane blizzards common in the Antarctic spring

              • tomscud

                Sea ice? What’s that?

              • BigHank53

                Oh, when were you there? I was present for the 2000-01 summer at McMurdo.

                By the point we’re deperately colonizing the TransAntarctics, I think we can safely assume that the technology base required to build steel ships is pretty much a lost cause.

        • Moondog

          hundred thousand survivors in fishing villages in the arctic

          + 6 on the space station

      • Lost Left Coaster

        Oh thank goodness! A ray of hope.

    • Brett

      Not likely. Earth is actually unusually cold right now – for most of the past billion years or so, Earth’s global mean temperature was far higher than what it is now. Think the early Cretaceous (or early Eocene), with no polar ice caps and higher sea levels.

      That’s small comfort for us, though. We’re used to the colder temperatures of the Holocene, and the changes to temperature caused by global warming will come quickly. If it’s any comfort, just remember that we’ve survived violent swings in global mean temperature before during the Younger Dryas Period.

    • searcher

      I addition to the other answers, another reason the runaway-Venus scenario is not in the “stuff we have to worry about right now” column is that we have a pretty good cold reserve in the form of the ice caps. If we started breaking pieces off Antarctica and mixing it into the ocean, we could counteract the heat gain from greenhouse gasses and keep the air and oceans the same temperature as they are now (although, let’s aim for 30 or 40 years ago, when it was a little cooler) even though the overall temperature (when you include the now-melted ice) will be going up.

      Of course, this strategy only works for a few hundred years, a thousand max, until we use up all the ice, and we would be committing to 1-2 inches of sea level rise per year, but it’s way better than triple digit heat in most of our cropland.

      • Francis

        that’s an interesting comment. I wonder what is the bigger heat reservoir — melting sea ice or the thermal capacity of the deep ocean? I’m also not sure that we can count on sea ice to prevent triple-digit temps. It’s that hot right now.

        • delazeur

          I don’t know, but melting surface ice gets you latent heat while the deep ocean only gets you specific heat. OTOH, we have a lot more deep ocean water than surface ice.

          Either way, it’s not accurate to say we would be counteracting present-day triple-digit temperatures. Those temperatures are the seasonal highs in the hottest regions of the world. The global mean temperature increase over pre-industrial averages is still “only” 0.75ish degrees Celsius.

          • I don’t know, but melting surface ice gets you latent heat while the deep ocean only gets you specific heat.

            How much do you have to heat the deep ocean to release significant quantities of that submarine methane clathrate one hears about from time to time? (Where “significant” probably means “comparable to the amounts being released by permafrost at the same time”.)

            • njorl

              Looking at the phase diagram of methane hydrate, and a pressure vs depth chart, I don’t think deep ocean based clathrates can be a problem for humans. You’d need at least a 10-12 C change in deep ocean temps before clathrates 1.2 km down started to change phase. That would mean a much larger change in surface temperatures had already happened. We would already be thoroughly screwed.

              Ground based clathrates in the arctic regions are much more precarious.

          • searcher

            Yeah, you wouldn’t get the number of days over 100 degrees much below today’s levels, but it is still a good thing to worry about. The high emissions projection currently has St Louis up to over thirty days over 100 degrees.

            This is really goddamn important because photosynthesis stops working at a little over 100 and plants switch to respiration (consuming their stored sugars for energy). This means (a) all that cropland in the middle of the country will spend a month in the middle of summer producing CO2 instead of consuming it and (b) those crops won’t have much to spare for producing their delicious grains.

            • searcher

              Missed the edit window — the high emissions projection for 2100.

    • Bruce B.

      Yes, according to several books written in the last few years by folks who’re part of the ongoing research into it.

      The catch is that conditions that have actually existed on Earth in the past are still well beyond what human civilization and perhaps human life of any kind can endure. Black bulb conditions from the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Capricorn, and things like that, and that’s without the shutdown of the global conveyer currents. We’ve had anoxic oceans full of stinking purple goo beneath green low-oxygen skies and temperatures up to 150 F or more, in the past.

  • Davis

    You need to hear both sides. It snowed in DC last winter. James Inhof showed us a snowball.

    • rea

      Of course, global warming disrupting weather patterns can actually make it locally colder.

      • Cassiodorus

        Since there is less water vapor in the air at lower temps, rising temps can result in more snowfall as long as it’s below freezing.

        • Denverite

          Yep. People in the Front Range have long been aware that the warmer winters are generally the snowier ones.

          • CrunchyFrog

            True. And the wingnut farmers are having real difficulty with this whole situation. On the one hand, they are in tune enough with the weather to know that the “rules” for managing the growing seasons have evolved a lot in the last 30-40 years. And they know that when their wingnut media spouts talking points like Inhofe’s that he’s full of shit.

            OTOH, they are after all members of the tribe and hate Hitlery and Barak Osama with every fibre of their being. The last thing they want to do is acknowledge that the Democrats can be right about anything.

            I get communications from my electric co-op, which is based out of Limon and Falcon and which has a fully wingnut board with heavy farmer representation. They are positively solar-hostile. But you can also see them struggling with this reality.

            Like Tom Lehrer once said, they must feel like Christian Scientists with Appendicitis.

            • Jackov

              I think there is a divide between the western, midwestern and eastern wingnut farmer. The EWF or a least the dairy subgroup, appears fine with solar, organic and even foreign yogurt as long as it helps keep the operation afloat. They still dislike taxes, cities, and Democrats.

          • njorl

            And there’s no lake-effect snow if the lake freezes over.

  • Morbo
  • Is there anywhere I can gamble on which major American metropolitan area will begin rapidly losing population due to climate change?

    I’d set the odds something like this:

    Miami: 4-1
    Las Vegas: 6-1
    Phoenix: 7-1
    New Orleans: 10-1

    • BigHank53

      New Orleans will stay cooler due to ocean proximity; the main threat there is from rising sea levels. They’re better prepared than Miami at any rate, so I’d put the odds much lower–there is real estate in Miami that will likely be unsellable within thirty years.

      The scary part of Phoenix and Vegas is their susceptibility to single-point failure. If there’s a serious multi-day power outage in Phoenix, a lot of people will die.

      • I kept New Orleans high just because if they get another Katrina level event, I don’t think there’d be the political will to rebuild a second time.

        If there’s a serious multi-day power outage in Phoenix, a lot of people will die.

        Vegas too, although it’s a much smaller metropolitan area.

        • Bruce B.

          Yeah. Also, John McPhee’s book The Control Of Nature has a pretty convincing argument that New Orleans will lose the Mississippi to a different channel.

    • Lost Left Coaster

      Some might argue that New Orleans has already lost population due to climate change. Although of course the debate remains over how much climate change intensified Katrina and other storms.

    • Davis

      Yes, it floods in Miami even in sunny weather whenever there is a so-called king tide. Comes up through the limestone. Ironically, there are two Miami residents who don’t seem to care very much: Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush.

  • Peterr

    In a related story, the NHL announced that Las Vegas has been awarded an expansion team.

    There is no confirmation on the rumor that they have decided to name it the Road Runners — a move that would create instant rivalry with that other classic ice hockey franchise in Phoenix.

    Also reportedly under consideration is the Climate Change Deniers, which should appeal to a significant chunk of the rightwing portion of the NHL audience. (The left wing, not so much.)

    • GFW

      Hmm, well, the NHL has pretty much exactly the same number of left wingers as right wingers …

      • Downpuppy

        And yet, the center cannot hold

      • Bill Murray

        probably quite a few who can be both types of wingers, too

  • glasnost

    as i do in every thread of this kind, i suggest to the audience that you google ‘odds of cooking the grandkids stuart saniford’ and read the link.

    the future is death on a scale equivalent to thermonuclear war.

  • Downpuppy

    The El Nino that pushed 2015-2016 into orbit is pretty much gone. By the end of the year Earth should be back to the new normal. In 6 years, we’ll be hearing Cooling Since 2016!

    Then the next El Nino hits.

    • Philip

      I know there are a lot of large-scale weather patterns that climate change will likely break down on a people-currently-alive-may-see-it scale. Are El Nino/La Nina included in that?

      • Downpuppy

        Not really sure yet. It’s looking like a split cycle with every other being big. The last 5 cycles were big-medium-huge-medium-OMFG.

  • CrunchyFrog

    Hey, everyone, calm down. Dr. Jill Stein has got this. After all, she’s the candidate of the Green Party, the champions of the environment.

    Her cunning plan goes like this:

    Step 1: Syphon enough votes from Clinton that Trump wins with a GOP majority
    Step 2: Trump tears up all climate change agreements, ends subsidies for green power, increases subsidies for coal and oil, and starts wars upping the demand for fossil fuel burning and generating even more greenhouse gasses.
    Step 3: After 4 years of this the American people come to their senses and vote the Green party into the presidency and congress.
    Step 4: ??? Ok, needs a little work – after 4 years of Trump the temperature increases are runaway, past the point-of-no-return. But I’m sure they’ll think of something.

    • Keaaukane

      You are forgetting the important step 2.5: The President Trump initiated global nuclear war, causing the Nuclear Winter to set in. Less people to use resources, less sunlight getting to the surface, soon Miami Florida will be a winter wonderland like Fargo, ND. Global warming solved.

  • This can’t be true. I have it on good authority from Fox News and my friends on Facebook that this is all a liberal hoax.

    • tsam


      (That’s a secret–don’t tell anybody)

    • DrS

      We can’t help ourselves. We love to prey on the weak and powerless, like those poor oil companies. Sad

  • This will end well.

    Damn right it will, as soon as the last of the humanoids are boiled to vapor!

    • Mother Earth

      Man, I thought I’d NEVER shake that infection.

    • Francis

      To be remotely serious for a second, I suspect that in the second half of this century we are going to see desperate attempts at geoengineering — primarily firing tiny sulfur dioxide particles into the upper atmosphere. It will make ocean acidification worse, re-introduce all the negatives of acid rain around the world, and rapidly become a project that needs to be continued indefinitely (as the occupants of the planet will still refuse to cut back on C02 emissions).

      How this all shakes out in 100 years from now is anyone’s guess. My personal bet remains war, quite possibly nuclear.

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