Heat Waves: The New Normal?

cool jets of a fountain
Kyle Peck, of Hamilton, Ohio relaxes under the cool jets of a fountain at a city water park in Tavares, Fla., Monday, June 14, 2010. The temperature in Tavares and much of Central Florida reached 98 degrees.(AP)

On the US East Coast this summer, major heat wave.  Power transformers bursting into flame.  Cities sweltering.  Gardens gone to wilt.  Europe, 2003, an even bigger scorch.  Tens of thousands of people dying from heat.

A big new report from Stanford University scientists says our worst heat waves are on track to become commonplace in the next thirty years.  That by the 2030s, as one writer put it, what we now call “heat wave” may just be “summer”.  Epically hot summer.

This hour On Point: we talk with the reports authors, and global warming skeptics, about what lies ahead.


Noah Diffenbaugh, author of a new study that says heat waves could become commonplace by 2039, with devastating consequences. He is an assistant professor of environmental Earth system science at the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University.

Jonathan Patz, professor of environmental studies and population health sciences at the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He studies the impact of climate change on public health.

Bill Easterling, dean of the Penn State College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. He is an economic geographer and climatologist who studies the impact of climate change on agriculture.

Bjorn Lomborg, academic and environmental writer. He is director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, which establishes priorities for advancing global welfare. His 2007 book is "Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming."

This program aired on July 15, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.


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