Dana1981 asked in EnvironmentGlobal Warming · 1 decade ago

If we fail to address global warming, how will we adapt to the increased heat waves?

The 2003 European heat wave killed tens of thousands of people and caused billions of dollars of damage. And that was just 2.3°C warmer than average (see Myth #12 - http://greenhome.huddler.com/wiki/global-warming-m... )

During the Chicago heat wave of 1995, the mercury spiked at 106°F and about 600 people died.

'In a few decades, people will look back at those heat waves "and we will laugh," said Andreas Sterl, author of a new study. "We will find (those temperatures) lovely and cool."'

Sterl's computer model shows that by the end of the century, high temperatures for once-in-a-generation heat waves will rise twice as fast as everyday average temperatures. Chicago, for example, would reach 115 degrees in such an event by 2100.

And it's not just at the end of the century. By 2050, heat waves will be 3 to 5 degrees hotter than now "and probably be longer-lasting,"


How will we adapt to these heat waves?


boatman - Sterl has a PhD in Engineering Sciences (and also a degree in physics) and works in the Global Climate division of the Climate Research & Seismology Department of the Meteorological Institute.

Those credentials good enough for ya?

22 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    Start to prepare now.

    At some point, possibly sooner rather than later, the competition for resources is going to become intense. Life or death survival intense.

    At this point the cost of the infrastructure necessary to create a sustainable homestead will be beyond the reach of the average person.

    As a practical matter, to answer your question:

    I'm building a rainwater capture / cistern system. It will collect more than one years worth of water use in less than one year (assuming rainfall remains stable here) and hold 2-3 years of use. A micro-climate created with strategically planted vegetation maintained with drip irrigation can reduce point temperatures by 20F.

    And more straightforwardly, a ground source heat pump powered by PV can be my air conditioning. I like how at peak demand for air conditioning PV would be at peak output.

    I have designs for a concentrating trough collector to run a steam turbine, but that's another story.

    Hey, you have masters in physics, could a ground source loop be a big enough sink to act as a condenser for the steam turbine?

    Like I said, start now.

  • Larry
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    Settle down. We can't control the temperature of the planet. IF, and that's a big IF, we have a heat wave like you have imagined, we will adapt the way our soldiers in Iraq have. I have a brother in law, who is 51 years old that has been living in Iraq for the past two years. It has been over 115ºF already and in the middle of the Summer, it gets over 135ºF.

    We have experienced worse heat waves in the 1930s than we have in the past few years. I worked outside in 1980 when in the central part of the US, we had over a month of consecutive days over 100ºF. The people who don't stay hydrated and/or over exert themselves will suffer. You have to pay attention to the weather and take precautions.

  • 1 decade ago

    To begin with, current temps have dropped drastically despite CO2 increases. This would seem to suggest (initially) that other natural forces are at work, not CO2. The temp will rise and fall by itself with no help from us.

    As for deaths caused by heat waves, you may want to google death by cold spells. More people die from cold than heat waves. A hypothesis could be made that less people will die in a warmer climate than cooler climate. If this is the case, why exactly are we so worried about warmer temps?

    Sorry, but trying to use the scare tactic still needs evidence to back it up. Leave the scare mongering to the main stream press. They are the champs at it.

  • davem
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    I remember great heat waves as a kid, and that's almost 50 years ago. They'd come and last for days or a week. Almost nobody had air conditioning and only some had a fan.

    Heat waves happen because hot (usually humid) air gets trapped by the jetstream or in between systems and doesn't move. They're nothing new and there is not a rising number of them. I don't agree with the information you provided.

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  • DaveH
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    You make two implications. The first is that we CAN address global warming, and the second is that global warming causes increased heat waves.

    We are currently told by the IPCC ( a United Nations body of politically appointed scientists who's charter requires them to demonstrate that man made global warming is both real and hazzardous) that global warming is real and caused by man made emissions of CO2.

    CO2 makes up 380 parts per million of the earths atmosphere. Only 4% of atmospheric CO2 is man made... that's 85 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere. This is the equivalent of 0.03 of a level teaspoon in a 10 Litre bucket.

    96% of atmospheric CO2 comes from natural sources; principally the oceans and decomposing vegetation... neither of which we cannot influence at all. Around 75% of the greenhouse effect is caused by water vapour. Man made CO2 is only a tiny component of the greenhouse effect.

    So if we somehow stopped all emmissions of man made CO2 on the planet tomorrow we'd influence the earths atmospheric composition by 0.0085%. Of course to do that we'd have to abandon all fossil fuel use in power generation and transport immediately. I'm certain that a lot more people would die from both heat and cold if there were suddenly no heating or air conditioning than currently do due to 'heat waves'.

    As for me, if we do get more heat waves, please look for me under a tree at the beach (which will be about 20cm closer to me than before due to the catastrophic rise in sea levels)

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I'm going to hope that Sterl is using last years model, and know that in any case he's probably closer to the mark with his prediction than we'd care to admit. From the first link:

    "Even if corrected for the bias in today’s climate, the projected T100 values point to the importance of dangerously high future temperatures in densely populated areas."

    You can't adapt to those conditions. Some will cope. Some won't. Society had better take steps to ensure that the elderly and other vulnerable groups are equipped to at least try to deal with what comes.

  • Ken
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    Who are you going to believe? High school graduate Rush Limbaugh, or some PhD research scientists named Sterl who's only published about 70 articles on the subject of climate science in the past few years?

    Thanks for pointing this out. Sterl isn't someone to be taken lightly. The extremes, as opposed to the averages, are what will be far more difficult to handle. That's true not only for heat, but also precipitation. And then there's the unknowns regarding tropical storms, etc.

    But don't worry, we (doesn't everyone have them?) can just all crank up our air conditioning ;-)

  • 1 decade ago

    Why indeed should policy makers care about heat waves? Thousands of dead elderly means billions in savings on pensions and future health care liabilities. Maybe the Bush administration is indeed looking after the the financial best interests of the US after all.

    Thousands can die from the immediate effects of a heat wave, but millions could starve later as a consequnce of crop failure induced by the heat wave.


    In short humans will adapt by allowing the less fit (physically or financially) segments of the world population to die sooner than they otherwise would.

  • 1 decade ago

    Thousands of people die from heat and cold exposure every year-- it is not unusual --- see these links



    Edit for Ken-- you mean this guy?


    A PHD meteorologist? Thought you said they were all dummies --- when skeptics site them?-- guess it's OK when believers use their computer models.

    "Sterl, who is with the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, projects temperatures for rare heat waves around the world in a study soon to be published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters."




    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3867/is_20... and a little history of heat deaths worldwide

  • 1 decade ago

    it may be too late if we wait any longer. Eventually there will be another ice age soon if global warming continues. Watch "An inconvenient Truth' by Al Gore and that explains it all (kind of hard to explain.)

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