Getting Familiar with Extreme Weather

For decades now climatologists have agreed that the first symptoms of global warming would be extreme weather events. (Here’s my 1989 Los Angeles Times article on the early researchers in the field.)

And I’ve argued that it will be extreme weather events that catalyze public opinion to demand further climate action from both governments and corporations.  As humans, we really can’t perceive “climate”--it’s just too long a time frame.  What we do understand is weather.

We’ve always named the traditional forms of extreme weather: cyclones and hurricanes. But in 2015 the UK started also naming severe storms (Angus, in 2016, disrupted transportation throughout the country).  And severe storm names are growing more popular in the US (Jonas, the same year, set numerous East Coast records).

This summer, Europe is in the midst of a record-setting heatwave, and it’s been named as well: Lucifer. In the act of naming extreme weather events, we take them more seriously, and perhaps we will ultimately demand that our governments do the same.