North America’s Extreme Heatwave “Virtually Impossible” without Climate Change

Make no mistake; the recent heatwave that hit the Pacific Northwest was only possible because of climate change, according to climate scientists. In the last days of June 2021, a new analysis of the heat wave in the United States and Canada found that it would be “virtually impossible” to achieve these extreme temperatures without man-made climate change.

Their findings prove that this heatwave would be at least 150 times rarer without human-induced climate change. Moreover, this heatwave was about 2 degrees centigrade (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than it was at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. “Observed temperatures are so extreme that they are far beyond the historically observed temperature range. It makes it difficult to measure with confidence how rare this phenomenon is,” the report said. “In the most realistic statistical analysis the phenomenon is estimated to be about 1 in a millennial event in today’s climate.”

North America’s Extreme Heatwave “Virtually Impossible” without Climate Change

The research came from an international team of two climate researchers working under the umbrella of the World Meteorological Attribution Network who analyzed the data in a matter of days. The study has not yet been peer-reviewed with a very short window of time. Multiple cities in Oregon and Washington, as well as the western provinces of Canada, recorded temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius (104ºF) in late June. The village of Lytton, Canada, recorded a record temperature of 447.9 degrees Celsius (116 degrees Fahrenheit) on June 28, which was later burned due to the growing fires.

News reports indicated that the number of deaths associated with emergency calls, emergency department inspections and heatwave had increased. British Columbia reported 486 “sudden and unexpected” deaths between 25-30 June, which the Coroner’s Office said although confirmed too quickly, probably “responsible for extreme weather”.

Full details of the casualties caused by the heatwave will not be available for three to six months in Canada and one year in the United States, but preliminary estimates put the heat at “at least a few hundred additional deaths.” Previously it was claimed that no single extreme weather event can be blamed for man-made climate change, this is a more general trend.