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Record-Breaking Northwest Heatwave Linked to Hundreds of Deaths

By Jake Johnson | Common Dreams

The record-shattering heatwave currently scorching the Pacific Northwest has been linked to hundreds of deaths in the region over just the past week, with British Columbia alone reporting at least 486 “sudden and unexpected” fatalities since last Friday.

“There is a way out of this nightmare of ever-worsening weather extremes… A rapid transition to clean energy.”
—Michael Mann, Susan Joy Hassol

While it’s unclear how many of those deaths were a direct consequence of the heatwave, the chief coroner of the Canadian province said in a statement that “it is believed likely that the significant increase in deaths reported is attributable to the extreme weather.”

In Oregon, the medical examiner’s office has received reports of more than 60 deaths believed to be tied to the dangerously high temperatures that have hit the state in recent days. On Monday, the temperature in Portland soared to a record 116°F—heat that was sufficient to melt city power cables. In the city of Salem, located roughly 50 miles south of Portland, the temperature reached an all-time high of 117°F.

“The preliminary cause of death for… 45 people in Multnomah County, ranging in age from 44 to 97, was determined to be hyperthermia, an unusually high body temperature caused by a failure of the body to deal with heat,” the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. “By contrast, there were 12 deaths from hyperthermia for all of Oregon between 2017 and 2019.”

According to the local medical examiner, many of those who died in Multnomah County were discovered alone without air conditioning or a fan.

Washington state has also experienced record-breaking heat, with two weather stations in Chelan County recording a temperature of 119°F on Tuesday afternoon. At least 13 people have reportedly died in the Seattle area as a result of the heatwave—a number that is likely to grow as high temperatures persist and investigations into recent deaths across the state continue.

CNN reported Thursday that “at least 676 people in Washington state visited emergency departments for heat-related symptoms from Friday through Sunday—before the heatwave hit its peak. On Monday alone, there were 688 heat-related emergency department visits.”

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), who represents the Seattle area, said Wednesday that the heatwave further demonstrates that “climate action is literally a matter of life or death—and it can’t wait any longer.”

Scientists have directly attributed the devastating Pacific Northwest temperature spikes to the human-caused climate crisis, warning that governments’ continued failure to slash carbon emissions in line with the current science will lead to even more intense heatwaves in the near future, with the elderly, the unhoused, incarcerated people, and unprotected outdoor workers among the most vulnerable to such extreme conditions.

“We’ve long known that a warming climate would yield more extremely hot weather,” climate scientist Michael Mann and science communicator Susan Joy Hassol wrote in a New York Times op-ed earlier this week. “The science is clear on how human-caused climate change is already affecting heatwaves: Global warming has caused them to be hotter, larger, longer, and more frequent. What was once very rare events are becoming more common.”

“But there is a way out of this nightmare of ever-worsening weather extremes, and it’s one that will serve us well in many other ways, too,” they added. “A rapid transition to clean energy can stabilize the climate, improve our health, provide good-paying jobs, grow the economy, and ensure our children’s future. The choice is ours.”


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Record Heat and Flimsy Power Grid Across US Illustrates Urgent Need for Green Infrastructure

By Julia Conley | Common Dreams

With states across the southern and western United States facing record high temperatures weeks before the hottest months of the year, scientists and progressive lawmakers on Wednesday doubled down on calls for green infrastructure to ensure the nation is prepared for increasing levels of extreme weather on a rapidly warming planet.

For the second time in four months, state regulators in Texas on Monday warned residents that the demand for energy was straining the state’s power grid, asking millions to set their thermostats to 78 degrees or higher, turn off lights, and avoid washing clothes and cooking.

“If we talk about infrastructure without considering how that infrastructure needs to match the climate conditions from today on into the future, then we’re building something that won’t stand a chance.” —Julie McNamara, Union of Concerned Scientists

Nevada and Arizona residents were also advised about drought conditions, wildfires, and extreme heat, and in California regulators on Tuesday warned people that they may soon be asked to conserve energy as parts of the state saw temperatures rising to 110 degrees and several wildfires burning.

Temperatures across Texas have reached the 90s this week, and the power demand on Monday came to 70 gigawatts—breaking the state’s record for June and coming close to the maximum that the grid was able to offer with some power plants offline for reasons that were unclear.

The New York Times noted that in the state’s deregulated energy system, power producers sometimes “simply choose not to offer electricity into the market because it might not prove economically beneficial, leaving customers short on energy and paying high prices for the power they do get.”

Following the winter storm in Texas in February that left nearly five million homes and businesses without electricity for days and was linked to more than 100 deaths, state lawmakers introduced legislation to better weatherize the power grid, but critics said this week’s heatwave has demonstrated how the plan is inadequate.

“If we talk about infrastructure without considering how that infrastructure needs to match the climate conditions from today on into the future, then we’re building something that won’t stand a chance,” Julie McNamara, a senior energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told the Times. 

According to The Guardian, solar power generation—demand for which skyrocketed after February’s power failure—has kept millions of Texans’ lights from going out this week.

“We have over five times as much solar as we had a few years ago and that made the difference in having these afternoons when we’ve had calls for conservation,” Dan Cohan, a civil engineering professor at Rice University, told The Guardian. “There likely would have been rolling blackouts if we didn’t have solar farms online.”

Kevin Doffing, a Houston resident who bought a solar energy system after the winter storm, told the Times, “I just don’t see how we keep doing what we’ve been doing and expect different results.”

The state’s power grid was “deregulated and designed 20 years ago,” said Mike Collier, a former adviser to President Joe Biden who is running for lieutenant governor in the state, and is now in “desperate need of modernization and simply hasn’t kept up with technology.”

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) tweeted that the power grid’s failure to provide for the state’s needs in unseasonably cold and hot weather—both of which are expected to continue amid the climate emergency—underscores the need “to invest in clean and renewable energy infrastructure.”

“The need to include climate action in any infrastructure package should not be in question,” said Lori Lodes, executive director of Climate Power.

As February’s storms left 69% of Texans without electricity, the state’s Republican leaders were quick to blame progressives who have pushed for a Green New Deal and an infrastructure plan that includes clean energy investments—despite agreement among experts that failures of fossil fuel-powered energy sources were behind the crisis.

In fact, said Dan Lashof of the World Resources Institute, “investing in modernizing our electricity grid to make it more resilient” is one key component of rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, despite Republican claims that the proposal doesn’t qualify as “traditional” infrastructure.

“Which provisions of the American Jobs Plan do opponents want to cut when they say they want to limit spending to ‘traditional’ infrastructure?” Lashof asked on social media.

“If we do all of these things fast enough and at large enough scale we will create millions of good jobs, reduce death and disease, and cut our emissions of heat-trapping pollution in half within a decade,” said Lashof.


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Hot Hot Hot! Iran City Heat Index Nearly Breaks World Record

By Jason Samenow | Washington PostThermometer-11947553_m-680x380

Wherever you live or happen to travel to, never complain about the heat and humidity again.

In the city of Bandar Mahshahr (population of about 110,000 as of 2010), the air felt like a searing 165 degrees (74 Celsius) factoring in the humidity. Although there are no official records of heat indices, this is second highest level we have ever seen reported.To achieve today’s astronomical heat index level of 165, Bandar Mahshahr’s actual air temperature registered 115 degrees (46 Celsius) with an astonishing dew point temperature of 90 (32 Celsius).

Bandar Mahshahr sits adjacent to the Persian Gulf in southwest Iran where water temperatures are in the 90s. Such high temperatures lead to some of the most oppressive humidity levels in the world when winds blow off the sweltry water.

In southeast Iran, also along the Persian Gulf, Jask, Iran observed a heat index of 156 degrees (69 Celsius) on Friday (air temperature 102.2 degrees with a dew point of 91.4 degrees).

Although there are no official records, 178 degrees (81 Celsius) is the highest known heat index ever attained. It was observed in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia on July 8, 2003. In his book Extreme Weather, weather historian Christopher Burt says Dhahran, also on the Persian Gulf, registered an air temperature of 108 degrees (42 Celsius) and a dew point of 95 (35 Celsius), which computes to such an extreme heat index level.

This week’s extreme heat index values have occurred as a punishing heat wave has engulfed the Middle East.

On Thursday, Baghdad soared to 122 degrees (50C) – though its dew point was a lowly 44 (7 Celsius) given its desert environs. That combination produced a heat index of 115 – the dry air taking a slight edge off the blistering temperatures.

A massive high pressure ridge or “heat dome” responsible for the excessive heat doesn’t look to budge for several days, at least.

[Read more here]

Originally entitled:” Iran city hits suffocating heat index of 165 degrees, near world record”

Author’s Notes: Credit to AccuWeather’s Anthony Sagliani for posting Iran temperature information on Twitter Thursday. Heat indices given in this post were calculated using the National Weather Service definition, which may be different from heat index or apparent temperature values reported on other Web sites.

Robert O'Leary 150x150Robert O’Leary, JD BARA, has had an abiding interest in alternative health products & modalities since the early 1970’s & he has seen how they have made people go from lacking health to vibrant health. He became an attorney, singer-songwriter, martial artist & father along the way and brings that experience to his practice as a BioAcoustic Soundhealth Practitioner, under the tutelage of the award-winning founder of BioAcoustic Biology, Sharry Edwards, whose Institute of BioAcoustic Biology has now been serving clients for 30 years with a non-invasive & safe integrative modality that supports the body’s ability to self-heal using the power of the human voice. Robert brings this modality to serve clients in Greater Springfield (MA), New England & “virtually” the world, with his website, www.romayasoundhealthandbeauty.com. He can also be reached at romayasoundhealth andbeauty@gmail.com.