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Can We Blame the Summer Heat Wave on Global Warming?


The following is an excerpt from IRINEO CABREROS | July 24, 2018 | Slate.com |

We are currently in the middle of a scorching hot summer with heat records being set around the world. On July 5, it reached 124 degrees Fahrenheit in Algeria: an all-time record both for the country and the entire African continent. The following day, Los Angeles set an all-time record at 111 degrees. This past Sunday, Japan logged its hottest temperature ever amid a heat wave that’s killed 77 so far. The implication seems clear. Global warming isn’t some far-off hypothetical; It’s happening right here, right now, and we can see it in our thermometers.

But is that completely correct? Hot summer days happen all the time. Can we really say that the scorchers this summer are climate change’s fault?

Dolling out blame for any single weather event is a tall order because weather is complicated. For one, it’s influenced by many factors: from planetary orbits to ocean currents to human activity. For another, it’s fickle. Yes, we’ve seen a decadeslong trend toward warmer temperatures, but it’s not constant. The East Coast of the United States, for instance, experienced an unusually cold spell this past spring—logging 1,291 record lows (and only 110 record highs) in a single week. How should we square that?

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