Tourists flock to ‘Death Valley’ as heatwave sweeps across globe

Posted on 18 July 2023 By David Henning

‘We’re in for a bit of a ride,’ warns the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), whose representatives addressed the press in Geneva.

John Nairn, senior extreme heat advisor at the UN agency, cautions that the heatwaves are intensifying and will become more frequent. The northern hemisphere has seen a six-fold increase in prolonged and simultaneous heatwaves since the 1980s, and this trend shows no sign of abating, reports CNN.

The urgency to act on the climate crisis is echoing worldwide, says Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization, calling on world leaders to take immediate action.

Already, global temperatures have risen by 1.2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels due to human activities emitting fossil fuels. Simon Lewis, chair of global change science at the University College London, warns that the current global policies could lead to a terrifying 2.7 degrees Celsius warming by 2100.

Last month, June experienced the planet’s hottest temperatures on record, accompanied by record ocean temperatures and a decline in Antarctic ice levels. The heat surge continues in July, with the first week marking the hottest ever recorded, pushing the planet into uncharted territory.

Extreme heatwaves have devastating consequences, with premature deaths, especially among the elderly. As climate harms are unequally felt, adaptation measures are crucial. Initiatives like cool zones or drop-in centers, increased tree coverage, and renewable-powered air conditioning in care homes can help mitigate the impact on vulnerable communities.

Read: Too hot to handle: Why South Africa’s cities need more trees

Italy, Greece, and Spain are currently experiencing soaring temperatures, with a high-pressure anticyclone pushing up from North Africa. European countries may soon surpass the continent’s record of 48.8 degrees Celsius set in 2021. Authorities advised people to take precautions, such as staying hydrated and avoiding direct sunlight during peak hours.

The scorching heat has also primed the land for wildfires, which have wreaked havoc in Spain’s Canary Islands and Greece, forcing evacuations and causing extensive damage.

With extreme heat waves becoming the new norm, humanity must urgently address the climate crisis and transition to sustainable practices to secure a livable future for all. As we brace ourselves for this unprecedented ride, it is crucial to act decisively and collectively to combat the rising temperatures and safeguard our planet.

California’s Death Valley reaches 56°

Death Valley’s scorching heat is drawing crowds like never before. This California desert, renowned as one of the hottest spots on the planet, has become a tourist hotspot as temperatures continue to soar in the Southwest. Visitors flock to Furnace Creek, part of the National Park, where the mercury reached a blistering 53 degrees on Sunday.

The allure? Climate change-inspired tourism, with people eager to witness a potential world record for the highest temperatures ever reliably recorded. Furnace Creek already holds the record of 56 degrees Celcius, set in July 1913.

A digital thermometer outside the visitor’s centre has become a prime selfie spot, and despite warnings not to venture out after 10:00 a.m., visitors were undeterred. Excessive heat warnings cover vast areas of Nevada, California, Arizona, and Texas, with record-breaking temperatures expected to persist for the next two weeks. A heat dome over Arizona, Nevada, and parts of California is trapping the hot air in place, affecting nearly 100 million Americans under heat alerts.

While it’s a trendy destination for tourists seeking to conquer the heat, there’s nothing cool about Death Valley these days. Even overnight lows top 100 degrees. Though the record high wasn’t reached on Sunday, forecasters speculate a thin layer of clouds may have played a role. So, if you’re chasing an adventure akin to conquering Mount Everest, Death Valley’s scorching embrace awaits.

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