Yes, what’s the matter with the climate? It is certainly a question that many of us have put up during this summer. Heat records, drought and forest fires have led to the fact that the debate on environment and climate has become hotter than ever and has emerged as one of the most important topics of conversation everywhere. Is this a taste test of what’s going to happen? Is this extreme climate here to stay? And is the mankind behind? In this two-part article we will review these issues. In the first part, we will take a closer look at the summer that has been here in Europe and in the next part, we will try to imagine what can actually happen with the planet’s greenhouse effect as the earth’s average temperatures continue to rise.
Many may appreciate the weather that we had, but this summer’s extreme heat is a warning sign and at the same time it clearly shows why we have to start thinking and shopping more ecologically and climate friendly!
Heat records, droughts and fires
Looking out over the lawn leading to the beach, it’s not unusual to see families enjoying a picnic, lifeguards in the sun and children playing in the water under a blue sky. But troubled clouds are flocking on the horizon. The lawn may soon resemble an African Savannah during the dry season, trees that hang, plants that drying out, begging for water. It’s not the lush greenery we’re accustomed to having. The air is dry and rough. The skin is always sticky from perspiration. At the beginning of summer warmth was welcome, but now it has become painful. It sits on one’s shoulders and weighs one down, sapping energy.
At the same time, out of control forest fires are destroying both forests and people’s homes. The fire department works frantically with volunteers to keep the flames under control. Meanwhile, people on the bone-dry lawns turn on barbecue grills despite firefighters encouraging otherwise – and here, a sense of enlightenment washes over me. We are facing very difficult challenges, and they require everyone to do their best to help. But just like with the grill, the same applies to the climate: people are slow to understand that they are part of a whole, that even their actions as single person actually play a role in the big picture. They think it doesn’t matter if they only grill. And it is this mindset that should cause worry. We must understand that it is the total impact of all the people on the planet, that greatly influences the climate – therefore, each individual’s choice is important.
Jet currents are out of balance
Jet streams are powerful streams of air high up in the atmosphere. This summer’s record heat has been possible due to the fact that a southern jet stream has slid in and parked on northern latitudes. When the jet stream is located far north, hot air from southern latitudes can follow, resulting in high temperatures. It was also the location of the jet stream, which caused the spring to come unusually late this year – since the jet stream was stagnant to stay further down in Europe. The fact that the jet currents can become more unstable and that their normal movement patterns can be disturbed as a result of the Earth’s rise in temperature is something that researchers have been warning us for far too long about. This may thus be one of the first major signs of the consequences of human climate impact.