Outdoor thermometer 100 degrees

Another heat wave: our new summertime normal. How does it feel to live through one? What can we do to make them less dangerous? These stories from the past three years are both vivid and informative.

Let’s start by imagining the future: “Halfway to Boiling: The City at 50C” (Jonathan Watts and Elle Hunt, The Guardian). To counter that dystopian vision, here’s one involving lots of smart adaptations: “What Would a Heat-Proof City Look Like?” (Philip Oldfield, The Guardian).

Next, two stories that focus on Phoenix, where scorching temperatures are nothing new. Jeff Goodell’s 2018 “Can We Survive Extreme Heat?” (Rolling Stone) paints a dire but compelling picture. Suggesting that good leadership can make a real difference, this new story by Sarah Kaplan, “How America’s Hottest City Will Survive Climate Change” (Washington Post) is a heartening companion piece.

For good information about the effects of heat waves and the choices we still have to make, see this very readable report from the Union of Concerned Citizens, “Killer Heat in the United States.” The report pays particular attention to the role of humidity, as this associated blog explains.

It’s no longer a surprise – though it’s definitely a problem – that politics come into the picture: “How a Decade of Neglect and Politics Undermined the CDC’s Fight against Climate Change” (Dean Russell and colleagues, Mother Jones).
Nor is it surprising that distressingly little is known about heat waves in Africa: “Climate Science Has a Blind Spot When it Comes to Heat Waves in Southern Africa” (Bob Berwyn, Inside Climate News). This too is a problem.

Drinking waterHow to spot the symptoms of heat stroke and heat exhaustion

And of course heat waves are part of the bigger problems of climate justice and COVID-19. See the top (with dark blue background) and first paragraph of this Climate Nexus newsletter for some sources on these connections.


This series is curated and written by retired Colorado State University English professor and close climate change watcher SueEllen Campbell of Colorado. To flag works you think warrant attention, send an e-mail to her any time. Let us hear from you.

Topics: Health, Weather Extremes