As students slowly switch gears from vacation to classroom mode, the heat has been increasing without change throughout America as well as South Korea.
“A typical Fullerton summer temperature usually maxes out at around the low 100s,” said Fullerton resident Noah Somphone. “I heard that while I was in Evanston for camp, though, it was at least 110℉.”
Early last month, for example, more than 25 million people were under excessive heat watches, warnings or advisories, according to CNN. Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas and Phoenix were just few of the included cities. The heat was expected to and did bring triple-digit temperatures to L.A.
Resulting deaths were not uncommon. While running a race in New York, a 30-year-old man died after collapsing on a mountain trail. According to the Essex County coroner, the man’s internal temperature reached 108℉ while at the emergency room, damaging his brain.
Even afterwards, New York was expected to top 90℉ for seven consecutive days which only happens about once every 33 years, according to the city’s National Weather Service. The National Weather Service also said that downtown L.A. broke the July 6 record by hitting 95℉ at 10:15 A.M., breaking the 1992 record of 94℉. Officials had to urge seniors and the young – age groups more vulnerable to the heat – to use public facilities designated as “cooling centers” and for residents to lessen time in the sun, stay hydrated and to not leave children or pets unattended in cars.
“Personally, in Northern California, I didn’t feel much of a difference,” said Palo Alto resident Angela Liu. “However, many of my friends from Southern California mentioned there were unusually high temperatures.”
Somphone, a friend of Liu, agreed.
“I feel like there’s more of a dry heat, especially because of the fires going on,” he said. “There’s a lot of ash falling around and the air is really bad, so I feel like it correlates with the heat. I stay in the shade more, drink more water and turn on the AC at night because it gets really hot.”
In contrast, Barrington, IL, resident Delaney Nelson said that she felt this year’s warm temperatures to be much worse than in previous years. Illinois was not an exception to the nationwide heat waves. “Chicago is pretty warm and humid in the summertime,” said Nelson. “It was actually interesting because when people from other states came to Illinois for the summer program I attended, they all were surprised and overwhelmed by the heat and humidity in Chicago, but for me, that was normal.”
While opinions differed for U.S. residents, such heat was felt globally, especially in South Korea. According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1,040 people fell ill due to the hot weather from May 20 to July 21 – an increase of 61 percent from the same period last year. The country’s highest-ever morning low was recorded in the city of Gangneung, where the temperature was approximately 88℉ at 6:45 AM.
As of August 9, at least 42 people have died from the heat which, according to The Guardian, is the highest number of deaths since South Korea officially started counting heat-caused casualties in 2011. The South Korean government has even cut electricity prices for July and August, encouraging citizens to use energy-intensive appliances such as air conditioners. Consumers are expected to save $237,502,470, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
“My kids and I cannot sleep because of the heat,” said Seoul resident Joo-won Park. “It’s really hard to bear the combination of humidity and scorching weather. Air conditioning is crucial.”
Regardless of where the scorching heat occurs, victims have questioned the whys for such warmth. Most researchers say global warming seems the likely cause. A CNN article reports that currently, about 30 percent of the world’s population experiences at least 20 days a year when the deadly threshold, determined by both air temperature and relative humidity, is reached. If greenhouse emissions continue at their current rates, the percentage will jump to 74 percent of the population by 2100.
“For heat waves, our options are now between bad or terrible,” said Camilo Mora, associate professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. “Many people around the world are already paying the ultimate price of heat waves, and while models suggest that this is likely to continue to be bad, it could be much worse if emissions are not considerably reduced.
While most of us may not consider the long-term effects of our daily contributions to climate change, continued ignorance could ruin the refreshing, fun-filled vibes of summer. “To be honest, I haven’t really thought about global warming, and I know that’s bad because if I’m like that, the whole world probably thinks “okay, we’ll put it aside for later,” said Somphone. “We’re losing a lot of the environment and especially our ice…I hope that people come to realize that global warming is actually a legitimate issue and to not be like me.”
Jenny Huh. Grade 12