But summer is supposed to be hot

Temperatures across much of the United States are forecast to reach or exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit through July 17.Temperatures across much of the United States are forecast to reach or exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit through July 17. (Source: Climate Reanalyzer/University of Maine)

Except not this hot and for not this long. Learn how record heatwaves are leading to more historic, disastrous flooding around the world.

“What we’re doing is we’re watching our predictions come true,” said Dr. Michael Mann, a distinguished professor and director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, in a recent interview with MSNBC’s Jen Psaki.

“We knew decades ago that human-caused climate change had arrived, and it would get much worse if we didn’t reduce our carbon emissions, if we didn’t transition away from fossil fuels towards clean energy,” Mann said. “We’re seeing, basically, the manifestation of decades of inaction.”

While the recent heat dome, current heat wave, and torrential rainfall that led to disastrous flooding in the northeastern U.S. and in Florida have dominated the headlines of the Americentric corporate media, deadly floods also have struck South Korea and Italy. And a suffocating heatwave in Greece forced authorities to close the Acropolis to tourists, some of whom suffered heat stroke.

Related: Here comes more rain, more drought, just as climate models predicted

The extreme weather events all over the world unmistakably are exacerbated by human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, Mann told Psaki, adding, “but some of the impacts are exceeding what we predicted, and one of those areas is extreme weather events.”

It’s not too late to fix this

Psaki asked Mann if nascent technological solutions like carbon capture and storage are viable solutions to the climate emergency, but, Mann noted, “First and foremost we should be focused on decarbonizing the infrastructure of our economy, of our civilization.”

“We can reduce our carbon emissions using the technology we have. The obstacles aren’t technological, they’re political,” Mann said.

Related: Political will all we need to avert climate catastrophe, say Mann, Whitehouse

More heat leads to more rain

A warming atmosphere holds more moisture, and the moisture that goes up eventually returns to Earth’s surface. In fact, for every increase of degree Celsius (or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) in the average global temperature, water vapor in the atmosphere increases by about 7 percent, per the laws of thermodynamics.

Related: Only a few degrees of global warming? So what.

And, seemingly counterintuitively, the moisture that evaporates into the atmosphere and is transferred by winds and the jet stream to fall elsewhere, can lead to drought conditions from where it evaporated, which, in turn, can exacerbate heat waves, and also increase the risk of wildfire.

A dry spring in Canada fueled record wildfires there, and British Columbia is expected to experience its worst wildfire season ever. While June was the hottest month on record, according to NASA’s global temperature analysis, 2023 is on pace to be one of the hottest years on record, if not the hottest. And while that doesn’t translate into record high temperatures every day everywhere, what it does translate into is more of the same weather extremes, which now seem to be weekly occurrences.