Those wishing for a long hot, dry summer might want to rethink their wishes.
We live in a time when climate records and weather shocks have become the norm, necessitating a different mindset.
July was officially the hottest month on record, with temperatures soaring amid heatwaves that hung heavy over the Northern Hemisphere.
With records being broken everywhere you look, it’s easy to lose sight of what those numbers actually mean.
“There’s no shortage of big, hairy numbers that come with each new broken record,” NZ Herald science writer Jamie Morton tells The Front Page podcast.
“But July was the hottest month, not just [in] a few years or decades, but in an estimated 120,000 years. Scientists have calculated that globally, the month was about 1.5C warmer than your average July back in pre-industrial times before humans started heating up the planet.”
The impact of that was seen in places like Maui, where cyclonic winds led to a rapid spread of wildfire conditions causing devastation across the island.
With the emergence of El Nino conditions for the first time in three years, New Zealand is expected to be in for a period of drier weather – which will pose a whole different range of risks in the coming year.
“Another thing to be watching for are dry conditions along the East Coast. Is that going to mean wildfire conditions? That’s certainly a big risk for eastern Australia, where fuel for fire has been building up for over three years. And now it’s going into a period that could be quite dangerously dry.”
The point here is that Aotearoa needs to stay vigilant when it comes to facing the ongoing effects of the climate crisis. Just because the summer might be drier this year, it doesn’t mean we’ll escape the effects of climate change.
- So, what do the Maui wildfires show about climate change?
- Is the Government doing enough to prepare us for the future?
- What do the major studies show about how quickly the planet is heating?
- And what should we expect to see over the summer months?
Listen to the full episode of The Front Page to hear more about the largest existential issue facing humanity.
The Front Page is a daily news podcast from the New Zealand Herald, available to listen to every weekday from 5am. It is presented by Damien Venuto, an Auckland-based journalist with a background in business reporting who joined the Herald in 2017.