A massive heat dome is bringing extreme temperatures to huge swaths of the middle of the contiguous 48 states. About 126 million people are under a heat alert with temperatures breaking records at least as old as 1950 and — the dome itself is more intense than during the August 1936 “Dust Bowl” but is producing slightly lower surface temperatures.
Climate change, mainly caused by the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels, is making extreme heat and heatwaves more frequent and intense. In addition to the obvious human health concerns caused by heat indeces of 120°F, the extreme heat will stress power grids and crops during the final weeks of the growing season at a time when global food supplies are increasingly dependant on U.S. harvests in the wake of the Russian war in Ukraine along with other climate-fueled disasters.
The extreme heat could also lead to a spike in methane pollution. During the record breaking heatwave across Texas earlier this summer, satellite imaging observed veritable geysers of methane pollution from Permian Basin oil and gas operations forced to shut down due to the extreme heat for which they were unprepared. (Extreme heat: Washington Post $, Axios, New York Times $); Grid: Bloomberg $, E&E $); Crops: Reuters; Permian methane pollution: Bloomberg $; Climate Signals background: Extreme heat and heatwaves)