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500 Days of Summer: We’re Having a Heat Wave, a Tropical — and Subtropical — Heat Wave

States hit hardest by heat wave cut or cancel programs to help poor people cool their homes.

One of the most brutal heatwaves in recent memory has been met with denial by right-wingers (see “Limbaugh Calls Heat Index a Liberal Government Conspiracy“).

Now, the Washington Post reports that “Many states hit hardest by this week’s searing heat wave have drastically cut or entirely eliminated programs that help poor people pay their electric bills, forcing thousands to go without air conditioning when they need it most. Oklahoma ran out of money in just three days.”Hard to believe we’re the richest country in the world.

The U.S. is, in some sense, being slammed by two different heatwaves –  a tropical heatwave with staggering humidity that is driving up the heat index to deadly levels and a ‘subtropical heatwave’ with staggering aridity that turns a drought into a Dust Bowl.

Of the tropical heat wave, meteorologist Dr. Jeff Masters writes:

Wunderground’s climate change blogger Dr. Ricky Rood in his latest post, [explains that] with hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland still inundated by flood waters, and soils saturated over much of the Upper Midwest, there has been plenty of water available to evaporate into the air and cause remarkably high humdities. This makes for a very dangerous situation, as the human body is not able to cool itself as efficiently when the humidity is high.

At the same time, it is a basic prediction of climate science that the subtropics will expand (see the Geophysical Research Letters paper “Cause of the widening of the tropical belt since 1958“).  I used to call that desertification until some readers pointed out that some deserts are full of life, which isn’t where we’re headed.  That’s why I now call it Dust-Bowlification.

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