But what if, instead of 77, it’s a full 40 degrees more: 117 degrees, like it was in California on July 6? Or 105, like it was in Japan last week? Then, it’s more than an issue of comfort; our lives depend on finding a way to stay cool, and in fact more than a hundred people have perished in heat-related deaths globally already this year.
Life in this new age, the Anthropocene, is marked by many things, including a human-caused increase in global heat, commonly referred to as global warming, or climate change. Risk from heat (or wildfires, or floods) is no longer something we have to rely on the overwhelmingly strong scientific consensus about global warming to tell us; every year, climate change impacts are becoming more and more obvious to everyone, whether you have a degree in climate science or not.
Weather and climate are different. Weather is what happens on a day-to-day basis; climate is the range of weather that we expect and consider normal (i.e., summer is hot) – but normal is changing.
As summer heat waves get longer, more numerous, and more intense (and it seems the whole world is on fire, with deadly fires everywhere from California to Greece to inside the Arctic Circle) one connection is obvious: our need to be cool.