Scorching Heat Continues Worldwide

Land and ocean temperature percentiles Jan-Dec 2023. (Image source: NOAA NCEI)

After just experiencing the hottest year in at least 100,000 years, our earth is now experiencing another brutally hot year. These temperatures are not only showing up as numbers on the Weather Channel or on the weather apps on our smartphones. These heat records are having concrete effects, every day, around the world.

In Miami, this past weekend the heat index reached 112 degrees Fahrenheit, breaking the previous May record by a whopping 11 degrees. And this is before the summer heat has kicked in. One meteorologist called it “insane” and “dangerous.” New Delhi, India, one of the world’s largest cities and home to more than 20 million people, just experienced a record high temperature on Wednesday of 126 degrees Fahrenheit!

New data shows that more than 2,300 people died in the U.S. alone last year due to heat related illnesses. Doesn’t sound like many? Maybe not, but that’s triple the yearly average between 2004 and 2018. The problem has become so real that the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) is proposing new rules to protect some 50 million workers from heat on the job. 

In Russia’s northeastern Siberia, usually a cold, mostly frozen region, a giant crater is sinking deeper and wider into the vast forest ground as the usually frozen earth warms underneath the surface. While scientists are having a field day finding previously frozen fossils and artifacts, the thawing permafrost is yet another sign of the effects of fossil fuel driven global heating.

And above Central America and Mexico a heat dome sits over the entire region, exacerbating water shortages regionwide but particularly in the megalopolis of Mexico City, another city of about 20 million. That heat dome is stalling hot, humid air in the southern United States, adding to the atmospheric mix that is powering a record numbers of tornado’s and severe storms in the south central and east central U.S. And in Chiapas and Tabasco, the southernmost states in Mexico, at least 147 Mantled howler monkeys have died of dehydration in the past two weeks, with some literally falling out of trees to their deaths in front of scientists.

We can continue to use words like unprecedented to describe these trends and events, but they are no longer abnormal. After more than two centuries of capitalist driven industrialization fueled by coal and oil, they have become the norm. And it will only get worse.

We have the power to stop this. And we have the power to keep things from getting worse. But powerful people stand in our way. They run banks, and oil companies, and auto companies, and airline, and plastics companies, and more. These people and their corporations must be stopped, and they must be stopped now. It’s up to us. There is no time to waste.