The world is on fire, both literally and figuratively. It’s May, it used to be that fire season would just be getting underway. But in the month of April two big wildfires started in New Mexico that have now merged and burned 217 square miles so far and with hot, dry and windy conditions the fire is nowhere near contained. Fires have erupted all over the Southwest and Texas very early this year burning over 4400 square miles so far.
The fires have been in part driven by the decades long drought in the Southwest and Nevada. The biggest concern of all is that the dammed sources of drinking water for major cities like Phoenix and Las Vegas are in trouble. Lake Powell water levels are so low that emergency measures have been put into place.
Most distressing of all have been the insane heat waves that have been happening in Pakistan and India who have experienced the hottest March on record and shattering heat records weekly. Delhi faced over a week of temperatures over 104 degrees Fahrenheit for the first time ever recorded. Desert cities in Pakistan have seen temperatures approaching 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The high humidity accompanying India’s heat wave has made for deadly conditions as well as severely impacting crop yields.
Climate models have been predicting just this sort of thing, and while a single heat wave can’t be specifically linked to climate models. The droughts in North America and Asia, the increases in wildfires are all consistent with climate model predictions. The worst part is that heat waves lead to higher power consumption in places like India with rolling blackouts and record power cuts happening. Given India generates 75% of it’s power with coal, it’s a vicious cycle. The climate induced heat waves, cause higher power consumption which leads to more greenhouse gasses, which leads to more heat waves.
Crop yield losses in India are particularly painful this year with the extreme losses already happening due to the war in Ukraine. The increasing crisis in food production has even caused the UN world food program to cut the size of it’s rations to starving people.
The fires keep coming, the water is running out, the crops are failing and we just keep on shambling.