By John Lawrence
Pakistan’s heat wave took a toll of more than 1200 dead, the deadliest heat wave on record. Power outages added to the misery, leaving many without fans, water or light at the beginning of Ramadan, when many Muslims do not eat or drink during daylight hours. More than 14,000 people were hospitalized in Karachi, the nation’s largest city.
The heat wave came just weeks after torrid temperatures caused nearly 2,200 deaths in neighboring India. This devastating weather is being seen as the effects of human-caused climate change. The Pakistan heat wave will join the heat wave in India as one of the 10 deadliest in world history.
Observant Muslims, who make up the majority of Karachi’s 20 million residents, were abstaining from food and water during long summer days. A single sip of water invalidates the fast, but Muslims are discouraged from fasting if they are sick or if doing so would cause physical harm.
“The deadly heat wave that has killed several hundred people in Karachi, Pakistan, is clearly a harbinger of things to come with the changing climate,” said Saleemul Huq, director of the International Center for Climate Change and Development in Bangladesh and a prominent climate scientist.
Powerful Storms Inundate Midwest and East Coast
On June 24 powerful rain storms wreaked havoc on the midwest and east coast. Hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses were without power in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Multiple tornadoes hit Illinois and Michigan. Power was knocked out to thousands of people. More than 50 homes as well as churches were damaged in Portland, Michigan. In Sublette, Illinois 5 people were hurt and one hospitalized with serious injuries when a tornado with winds of 135 mph hit a campground.
More than 90,000 homes remained without power in Michigan four days later. To the south, more than 30,000 were without power in the Fort Wayne area alone, and crews said it could be days before the lights come back on for everyone.
In Ohio, there were reports that a nursing home had to be evacuated on Sunday, June 28th in Deshler as the floodwaters rose.
“An unusual storm for late June began to crank up in the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes late Friday, before sweeping into the Northeast by Sunday,” said weather.com meteorologist Chris Dolce. “The storm brought a swath of heavy rainfall that resulted in flooding across parts of Indiana and Ohio late Friday into early Saturday. The area of low pressure associated with the storm also caused strong winds in the eastern Great Lakes. In Detroit, winds gusted over 30 mph much of Saturday, peaking at 40 mph.”
Wind gusts topping 60 mph blew down scores of trees in and around Fort Wayne, contributing to power outages for about a fifth of Indiana Michigan Power Co. customers in Allen County. The utility company said it had more than 600 separate outages in the Fort Wayne area and that it could take several days for complete restoration.
Northwest Sets Heat Records
A torrid heat wave has broken June record highs in at least 10 cities in the Northwest. Additional June or even all-time high-temperature records were in jeopardy across parts of the Great Basin and Northwest.
Furthermore, the extreme heat was predicted to last well into early July and may end up breaking records for longevity as well. Walla Walla,Washington, hit 113 degrees. Boise, Idaho, topped out at 110 degrees. Boise also tied its all-time record streak of 100-degree-plus highs on July 4, a string of nine straight days. Spokane, Washington hit 105 degrees. Seattle is likely to shatter its record streak of 90-degree-plus highs – five straight days in 1981 and 1941 – early this week.
In the case of this heat wave, nearly every major weather observation site in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, western Montana, northern Nevada and the Sierra Nevada (California) set a daily record high on June 27, and many of them set records on several other days in late June. A slew of Northwest cities set new records for the entire month of June. Some cities broke their previous June records two or even three days in a row.
On June 26 residents of two California towns were under mandatory evacuation orders for wildfires. The fire in the San Bernadino mountains was among scores of wildfires raging along the West Coast from Alaska to California. Nearly 1000 residents were ordered from their homes in Santa Clarita as a wildfire spread across 350 acres in a couple hours.
Pope Says Earth Becoming a “Pile of Filth”
Pope Francis has said that what we’ve done to the Earth is to create a “pile of filth.” He’s called for radical change in our political and economic systems in order to keep the Earth habitable for future generations. Hopefully, the world’s other major religions will take a page out of the Pope’s book and come forward demanding radical change as well. How about it Protestants and Jews?
Celebrating his 80th birthday, the Dalai Lama has followed in the Pope’s footsteps calling for action to mitigate global warming and climate change.
We’d be better off walking and biking instead of driving automobiles. This is from an article by Linda Rudolph and Tracy Delaney, Climate Change a Threat to Health:
Shifting from automobile use to walking, biking and public transit will not only reduce carbon and air pollution, but the accompanying physical activity will also yield huge reductions in cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and some cancers – not to mention improvements in mental health and well being. We need swift and robust investments in infrastructure to make active transportation in our communities easy, affordable and safe.
To ensure that our cities are prepared for more frequent and severe heat events, especially in low-income areas surrounded by concrete and asphalt, we need to create more green spaces, such as parks and trees. These spaces cool down city temperatures in “urban heat islands,” and they also improve mental health, reduce air pollution and storm water runoff, and improve the capture of precious rainwater in our groundwater aquifers.