Tomorrow, Grist will launch a package and pop-up newsletter on extreme heat called Record High. The newsletter will run for three months, and story coverage will continue through the rest of the year.
Over the past few years, Grist has run an award-winning, multi-month initiative we call the Extremes project, where we choose a different extreme weather type and explore how the climate-fueled disaster is reshaping communities, economies, and ecosystems. In 2021, we covered wildfires. Last year, drought. For 2023, we’ve selected heat.
As carbon emissions rise, communities across the globe are dealing with increasingly severe and frequent bouts of extreme temperatures. Since the 1960s, the number of heat waves hitting large metropolitan areas in the United States has more than tripled. The length of what is considered “heat wave season” has also jumped, from an average of 24 days in the 1960s to 73 today. Some 8 million Americans were exposed last year to “extreme danger” temperatures, defined by the National Weather Service as a heat index of more than 125 degrees Fahrenheit. By 2053, that number is expected to rise to 107 million — a nearly 13-fold increase — and the U.S. will form an “extreme heat belt,” according to research from the First Street Foundation.
These scorching temperatures are already impacting public health, drought, agriculture, infrastructure, equity, ecosystems, and much more. But there are also innovative solutions, policies, and technologies being tested to adapt to this hotter future, which we’ll highlight in this series.
To follow Record High’s coverage, sign up for the newsletter here.
A special thanks to The Wilderness Society, whose sponsorship is helping to support Grist’s reporting for this project.