How climate change is influencing temperatures in 1,000 cities around the world


Climate change as a ‘significant factor’ in temperatures

Has the temperature in your city on any given day been influenced by climate change?

A new tool can answer this question for more than 1,000 cities around the world. The Climate Change Index, developed by scientists at Climate Central, uses long-term observations and trends at locations combined with global weather patterns to determine whether the temperature at a given location on a given day has been made higher or less likely by global warming.

The tool uses established methods in the field of attribution science to examine the frequency of temperatures in our current climate, which has warmed by nearly 1.3 degrees due to human-caused carbon emissions . Scientists are able to model an alternative scenario where there is no global warming and compare how often that day’s temperature would likely occur in that scenario. The Climate Change Index will show a number as low as negative-5 (signaling that the temperature has been made 5 times less likely under climate change), as high as positive-5 (signaling that the temperature has been made 5 times more likely under climate change), or if climate change had no detectable influence on temperature, a zero.

Individual weather events cannot be said to be “caused” by climate change – the weather varies widely, even without increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. But this tool allows us to still talk about how climate change is making extreme conditions more common in scientifically accurate ways, said Andy Pershing, director of climate science at Climate Central.

“There’s been a lot of work to figure out how you can look at a particular set of weather conditions and try to understand how climate change has influenced those conditions,” he said. “Any weather event will have many causes, but climate change is an important factor. And we can see this signal in many days and in many conditions.

Climate Central published an analysis with the launch of the new tool this week which showed that climate change has affected the temperatures experienced by 96% of the world’s population over the past year. Cities near the equator and on small islands experienced the highest climate-influenced temperatures, according to the analysis.

“One of the goals of this tool is to be able to help them give the media a tool to support that conversation,” Pershing said, “an objective, scientifically peer-reviewed way to say that this weather condition actually has a detectable climate footprint.”


Greetings from California, the Wildfire State

The postcards you’ll spot in a gift shop or gas station on your next road trip can show stunning waterfalls, epic mountain views, and cheery beach scenes. What if these memories instead showed vacation spots after climate change?

It is the inspiration of by artist Hannah Rothstein “50 states of change.” Postcards from each of the 50 United States show a country plagued by wildfires, drought, floods, insects and algal blooms. Rothstein said she selected each state’s disaster-based projections from the National Climate Assessment and Climate Central States at risk.

“Postcards come from a time that is really nostalgic in America; I believe they are from the 1940s and 1950s, a sort of golden period that people idealize,” Rothstein said. “It’s about taking that and flipping that feeling and that concept on its head in order to make a stronger point about where we are now.”

Rothstein has teamed up with environmental advocacy organization Greenpeace to revive the act of writing a postcard through a letter writing campaign to politicians urging action on climate change.

Much of Rothstein’s art revolves around climate change. It’s a problem that art is essential to help solve, she said, because art can bring emotion and meaning to the hard facts and neutral language found in life. science.

This is why, despite the tragic scenes she illustrates, Rothstein recognized that her work is still so beautiful. “It doesn’t immediately turn people off, it attracts them,” she said. “It makes them want to look harder. And that, in a way, makes it easier to think about the most difficult questions.


Storm warnings, across geographies and dialects

When Hurricane Ida hit the northeastern United States last year, several people drowned in basement apartments. Many of these victims were of Asian descent and was not fluent in English or Spanish – the languages ​​in which the warnings were issued.

The tragedy made it clear that National Weather Service hurricane warnings must be issued in multiple languages. The agency is now working with artificial intelligence translation startup Lilt to get warnings quickly translated into languages ​​like Chinese to help save lives.

Lilt takes warnings in English and has them translated by both humans and the computer. The computer’s artificial intelligence learns from human translators to understand terminology and context in the weather-related vernacular and improves in quality the more it is used.

“When you have people working on it, they’ll keep the model up to date,” said Phil Stiefel, an executive at Lilt. “This way you get a more accurate translation, which helps reduce the risk of mistranslation, which could hurt someone.”

Misunderstanding a weather alert can cause someone to behave in the opposite way to what they should — they may evacuate when it’s better to stay put, or vice versa, Stiefel said.

Lilt contributed translations of this year’s Great Storms, including Fiona and Ian. In the future, Stiefel said, the company hopes to expand to other types of warnings and weather products to find the best way to translate warnings in a way that will be interpreted correctly and with meaning. appropriate urgency.

“We have our professional services team as well as the technology engaged to help them find solutions to these issues,” he said, “and start bringing words that drive common sense to action and are understandable by the widest possible audience, across geographies and across dialects.


Plastics are everywhere. Now add classrooms to the list

In most social movements, it is young people who lead the charge and push for progress. But first, they must learn that there is a problem to be solved.

This is why the organization Break Free From Plastic wants to ensure that children are made aware of the plastic pollution crisis from an early age. The organization launched a new formation for teachers that provides curriculum and certifications that will help them incorporate lessons about plastics into their classrooms for students ages 5-18.

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More than 50 teachers from 19 different countries are taking part in the training which started this month and will continue until December. They will learn how to create an age-appropriate curriculum covering topics such as the life cycle of plastics, how plastic affects society and the environment, and how to advocate for systems that prevent plastic waste.

“A lot of teachers wanted to know more about how they could extend these lessons to students to create more action even outside of school,” said Tiara Samson, Movement Building Associate at Break Free From. Plastic.

The training is aimed at teachers from Asia, Africa and Latin America, which Samson says are underrepresented in the plastic waste movement. Yet these countries, particularly those in Southeast Asia, tend to bear the brunt of plastic pollution as they serve as destinations for recycled waste.

The next steps after teachers have completed this training, Samson said, are to present the program’s teachings to government agencies to see if there is interest in mainstreaming this education.

“We will show how easy it is and possibly propose these changes in national curricula,” she said. “It’s a long way to go, but it’s kind of the direction we’re going.”

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