Barry Lynn
Intersection of Science and Policy

The Heat Is On — and Israel Is Burning in More Ways than One

Table 1. Relationship between sea surface temperature, maximum hurricane wind speed and kinetic energy (the square of the maximum wind speed) (By Permission of Professor Toby Carlson, emeritus)

There is no end in sight for our current heatwave.   We’ll continue to have high temperatures in the mid to upper thirties at least to the end of July, and possibly the through the first week of August.  This extreme heat can lead to heat stroke for those venturing outside or for those who can not cool themselves indoors in air conditioned rooms.  Moreover, the extreme heat is drying our forests, and dry forests, no matter whether they are managed well or not, are more likely to intense wildfires.

Extreme heat persists and persists in much of Europe and the southern United States, and yet there are those who continue claiming that global warming is “good for the world.”  Two decades ago I published a paper entitled: “An Analysis of the Potential for Extreme Temperature Change Based on Observations and Model Simulations.”  The conclusion of the paper was that interactions between sea surface surface temperature anomalies and the resulting atmospheric pattern could lead to extreme temperatures in the United States.  Extreme temperatures would occur because of feedbacks between the drying land surface and developing atmospheric high pressure systems.  Both drying and high pressure would intensify under high CO2 concentrations, leading to extreme surface temperatures.  Recently, a paper entitled: “Causes and Predictions of 2022 Extremely Hot Summer in East Asia” describes exactly such a scenario occurring now.  In the United States, an intense summer heat dome is described in the news as leading to unprecedented and unrelenting heat.

There are those who argue that there cannot be global warming because there have also been localized regions with more intense winter cold.  Yet, as explained in this paper, the melting of sea-ice due to global warming has led to changes in the winter time circulation pattern that has intensified winter cold in China. In other words, there can be localized regions of more intense winter cold, while other areas of the world have much warmer winters.

Finally, there are those that argue that we have nothing to fear from tropical storms. When they do, they often point to the infrequency of tropical storms, in general, ignoring the fact that it takes just one storm to do intense damage.  Years ago, I also published a paper entitled: “Investigation of Hurricane Katrina characteristics for future, warmer climates.”  The paper discusses the potential impact of global warming on tropical storm intensity, pointing out that projected increases in sea surface temperatures could, under favorable atmospheric conditions for tropical storms, lead to extremely damaging and intense hurricanes in the future.  As recently noted in the news, Gulf of Mexico surface temperatures are at “shocking levels.”  The featured table shows projected hurricane wind speeds versus sea surface temperatures.  It goes up to 86 degrees Fahrenheit,  which is about 2 degrees Celsius lower than current values.  As noted by Professor Toby Carlson (emeritus), based on a seminal paper by Banner I. Miller, the Gulf of Mexico Sea Surface temperatures are primed to produce a tropical storm of Biblical proportions — greater than 200 miles per hour.

It is true that a warming world might “open up” some areas for farming, but it also means that some areas will be inhospitable to food production.  For instance, while global warming doesn’t necessarily imply prolonged drought, one summer of extreme heat and drought can ruin a crop.  On the other hand, a warmer atmosphere “holds” more water vapor, so even mundane frontal systems can lead to damaging flooding.  It’s true that extreme cold can kill, but extreme heat can kill as well.  In fact, extreme heat killed more than 60,000 people in Europe from late May until early September.  This is far more than died from extreme cold in Europe from 1990 to 2016.

Before parting, I’d like to mention that along with our extreme temperatures, our social temperatures are also burning.  Why?  Because the government insists on passing a law that will eviscerate the Supreme Court.  The government says that the court should not use “reasonableness” has a means to disqualify government actions.  Yet, as a commentator wrote in response to an article in the Times of Israel,  a government that seeks to eliminate reasonableness wishes to do unreasonable things.

Imagine that there are four political parties, A, B, C, and D.  Party C wants to build a coalition with Party D.  They have 64 votes together.  Party D tells Party C that they will join Party C if they agree that the taxes of the constituents of Party A will enable the constituents of Party D to refrain from working.  Moreover, the constituents of Party B must stand at the borders of their towns protecting them.  Party C says, “no problem,” you can live your lives as you wish and someone else (not us) will protect you and pay you to not work.   Party D says “oh, that’s not enough,” we want you to install our leader (who has been convicted of financial crimes) to the position of Finance Minister (so he can do what?).

I can only ask that at this time of Tisha B’Av, that all keep in mind the sage words of our prophet Yish’ayahu.  As described by Rabbi Nachman (Neil) Winkler in the latest issue of Torah Tidbits (issue 1525), God did not turn his back on our prayers at that time because they were insufficient or insincere, but because of “injustice and corruption.”  He writes that the city of Jerusalem at that time was once filled with justice and righteousness, but now murderers.  God would not bring destruction because of how the people worshipped, but because of how they treated others!

In our time, Rav Kook was a shining example of righteousness, kindness and acceptance.  In my opinion,  many of our prominent “Rabbis” display very few or none of these traits.  Isn’t it ironic, then (or is it tragic?) that Party C claims to represent the “working man,” while Party D professes to be the party that “fears God?”

About the Author
Dr. Barry Lynn has a PhD in Environmental and Atmospheric Sciences. He has an undergraduate degree in Biology. He is a researcher/lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and is the CTO of Weather It Is, LTD, a weather forecasting and consulting company.
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