Story at a glance

  • Experts say extreme weather occurring across the globe could offer a preview of what to expect in the near future.
  • "I've been involved with climate research for 23 years, and I honestly didn't think it would get this bad this fast," a climate scientist at Oregon State University told NBC.
  • "This isn't really news to anyone who have been studying this for a while, but it's depressing to see it coming true," he added.

Extreme weather events in recent headlines, including wildfires, heat waves and flooding, could offer a preview of what to expect in forecasts of the near future, experts suggest. 

"Climate scientists were predicting exactly these kinds of things, that there would be an enhanced threat of these types of extreme events brought on by increased warming," Jonathan Martin, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison told NBC News. "It's very distressing. These are not encouraging signs for our immediate future."

Already, historic heat waves have ravaged the Pacific Northwest, wildfires blaze across California and Oregon and agencies are recording some of the hottest months on record. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said last week that July was the hottest month ever recorded.


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Now, experts are warning that the recent heatwave in the Pacific Northwest, which led to hundreds of deaths, could become an increasingly common occurrence.  

"The heat event that we had in the Pacific Northwest in June — it's not that we're suddenly going to see that every summer, but the recent extremes are certainly a preview of what we'll see more frequently in the future," Karin Bumbaco a research scientist at the University of Washington, told NBC

Philip Mote, a climate scientist at Oregon State University, explained to NBC that extreme conditions can be exacerbated by climate change, adding that, even to experts, the drastic conditions seemed to happen more quickly than expected. 

"I've been involved with climate research for 23 years, and I honestly didn't think it would get this bad this fast," he said. "This isn't really news to anyone who has been studying this for a while, but it's depressing to see it coming true."


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A climate report released by the United Nations last week referred to the ongoing situation as a "code red for humanity." The report suggests that greenhouse gas emissions are accelerating at a rate not seen in centuries. 

"The evidence is irrefutable: greenhouse gas emissions are choking our planet & placing billions of people in danger. Global heating is affecting every region on Earth, with many of the changes becoming irreversible. We must act decisively now to avert a climate catastrophe," United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in response to the report compiled by more than 200 scientists and more than 14,000 studies.

U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry echoed the sentiment, saying the science has been there for decades, but "the climate crisis is not only here, it is growing increasingly severe."


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Published on Aug 16, 2021