Climate Change Chronicles July 2023

This month’s Climate Change Chronicles bears witness to July 2023 going down in history as a tipping point in human awareness of the effects of global warming that can no longer be denied as the planet crosses over into an era of accelerating climate change. Yet, despite all the unsettling news, global carbon emissions are showing signs of slowing due to the work of countless scientists, engineers, activists, policy experts, government agencies and other professionals around the world, including those working to green PLM and NPD.

So many climate records were broken this month that climate scientists began stating the obvious: global warming and climate change is accelerating and has entered into new unprecedented, unchartered territory which the world is ill prepared to handle. Floods, fires, droughts, water shortages, and deadly heat are fueling concurrent crises and disasters across the world as the planet is on track to exceed an increase of over 5 degrees F.

Early in the month, for three consecutive days the planet set new records for average global temperature of nearly 63 deg F. Researchers say there is little doubt that climate change due to humans burning fossils fuels has fueled this year’s heat wave. After June was proclaimed the hottest June on record with temps nearly 2.7 deg F warmer than average, more scientists now expect that this year may end up being the hottest year on record. Once all the numbers are tabulated, July is also expected to finish as the hottest July while some predict July 2023 could end up being the all-time hottest month on record, that is until some new record is likely set in the coming years.


Featured image from BBC and its sources at

At one time during the month some 60% or 200 million Americans were under an excessive heat warning. Phoenix experienced high temps over 110 degrees for nearly the entire month and is now one of the first cities in the nation to have a heat officer.  Overnight temperatures there were running in the mid-90s, offering little relief. The temperature of coastal waters off the Florida Keys went higher than anyone thought possible, at over 101 degrees, threatening tourism and coral marine life. A kids’ playground slide in Texas was measured at 130 degrees. Over ten people died from heat in Laredo where temps exceeded 110 degrees in a town that historically knew how to deal with heat. All across the nation people wisely avoided working outside, kids playing outside, and even walking pets outside during the day’s heat. Death Valley California approached breaking its record with a temperature of 128 degrees. Vacationing hikers who ignored warnings died from heat while visiting national parks. While temperatures across the US Midwest were lower, the humidity made the wet-bulb temperatures deadly to the elderly, disabled or ill, especially in inner city heat islands like St. Louis and Chicago, both of which are struggling to prepare for the new abnormal normal.

It has been just as bad elsewhere in the northern hemisphere this summer. A location in Canada just outside the Arctic Circle, recorded a temp of 100 degrees and became the northern-most Canadian site to experience triple digits, all while wildfires continue to burn tens of millions of acres across the country. New records were set in Mexico where Hermosillo in the northwest of Mexico reached 121 deg as ice was being rationed some Mexican cities. A record 126 deg was set in rural Jingxing, China and another all-time record of 104 deg in Beijing. On one evening in an Algerian village, temperatures never fell below 103 deg F.  A Persian Gulf Airport located in Iran experienced a heat index of 152 deg F as heat, droughts, and water shortages occurred across the country, creating civil unrest in a fragile part of the globe.

American tourists across Europe are learning that the continent is no longer easy nor safe to visit during their summer vacation months. Heat emergencies threatened residents and struck down travelers alike in Spain, Italy, France, and especially Greece. Wildfires in Greece and on Greek Islands caused thousands of locals and tourists to seek emergency shelter and evacuations. The Greek military and EU aid organizations were mobilized to help fight the fires.  Tourists were seen sleeping in schools, airports, and building lobbies as they sought rest and relief before being evacuated out of harm’s way. Global financial analysts are sounding the alarm that a warming planet will forever change the tourism economy, especially in vulnerable countries like those in southern Europe which are dependent upon both tourism and the climate. Last year researchers estimated that heat waves in Europe killed over 60,000 people which until this summer was Europe’s warmest on record.

👍 Despite the historic heat wave gripping Europe, the continent’s power grid is holding up. Even better news is that consumer electricity prices have not risen like they did during the past winter’s natural gas shortages. Carbon-free power from solar, wind, and nuclear are saving the day. Spain alone is generating 20% more power from solar this year than it did in 2022.

As ocean waters around the world set new records for the third consecutive month this summer, the waters off the shores of the Florida Keys approached 100 degrees F, (soon to be surpassed later in the month) which was 5-10 degrees warmer than normal. Marine scientists were alarmed, saying we are entering uncharted territory on the impact of the heat wave on marine life including coral reef bleaching.

Oceans are said to absorb some 90% of the excess heat caused by the burning of fossil fuels. Scientists report that as the oceans warm, they are changing colors, becoming greener, in ways that cannot be explained by factors other than climate change.

👍 In good news, through the first five months of the year, total global carbon emissions rose only slightly from the year before. The reduction was led by 5% from the US and 3.2% from the EU. Both were down due largely to lower emissions from power generation for electricity and heating during a warmer than average winter.  However, emissions continue to rise from China and India, which rose by nearly 4% and 6% respectively.

NOAA confirmed that the planet experienced its hottest June on record when the globe’s average temperature was nearly 2 degrees warmer than the 20th century average. On the same day as the announcement, nearly 40 million Americans were under some kind of a heat alert. The agency initially projected that there was a 20% chance 2023 will go down as the hottest year on record, until thousands of records were broken around the world as the month proceeded.

Communities in the northeast U.S. states of Vermont and New York experienced catastrophic flooding from record rainfalls. Rainfall was over 10 inches in some locations, forcing evacuations, washing out roads, and closing airports. The flooding exposed how ill-prepared much of the US is to floods that will only get worse due to a changing climate.

All across the US, communities are struggling with inadequate infrastructures that can’t handle more frequent torrential downpours. Government agencies, insurance companies, and financial analysts are all worried that the country is vastly underestimating the potential damages from extreme rainfall events that are happening almost weekly.

👍 The state of New York announced it will spend more than $1B to become more weather resilient to combat climate change. Most of the funds will be used to improve infrastructures from flooding, including road, bridges, dams, and other public assets.

Monsoon rains across northern India are heavier and more devastating this year as some locations have received rainfall several times the average for this time of the year.  Dozens have died as homes, farms, and livestock were washed away in flooding and landslides caused by it. Tourism there has also been affected in regions that were attractive destinations.

👍 The US Agriculture Dept. will invest $300 million to study regenerative farming practices to better understand current agricultural emissions along with how carbon is captured and then sequestered in soils across the country’s farm and ranch lands.

A new study warns that the use of natural gas, long thought to be a cleaner alternative, can be just as bad as coal. It seems that if only a small amount of methane is leaked during gas extraction or processing, its emissions advantages go away. Methane is a much more potent GHG though it stays in the atmosphere for a shorter period of time that CO2.

👍 In a trip to China to restart climate talks between the world’s two large emitters, US Climate Envoy John Kerry said that time was running out to avert a harrowing future.  China and US are responsible for nearly 40% of global emissions. While Kerry was in the country, a weather station in China reported its all-time record high of 126 degrees F while Beijing recorded 27 days of temperatures above 95 deg F, all the result of a summer heat wave that started weeks earlier than usual.

While US emissions are now falling, China’s are expected to continue to rise for another decade as dozens of new coal-fired power plants that are already planned come online. However, in better news, China is building more solar, wind and other renewable energy sources than the rest of the world combined and is projected to double its green energy capacity by the middle of this decade.

👍 In a separate visit to China following Kerry, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called on China to do more to help developing nations combat climate change by funding international climate investments. Disappointingly after both Yellen’s and Kerry’s visit, China’s leader Xi Jinping told its communist party leadership that China alone will decide how quickly to address climate change without outside interference. Some pointed out that the US has still produced nearly twice the amount of cumulative GHG emissions into the atmosphere since preindustrial times than those from China, though that will change this decade.

Health experts warn that a warming climate may undo all the progress made against diseases such as tick-borne diseases, malaria, and fungal pathogens. The WHO estimates that between 2030 and 2050, these diseases will claim hundreds of thousands of additional lives because we underestimated increasing disease risks and failed to prepare for them. Millions more of people will be forced to migrate to safer climates for their personal health.

Sea lions along the California coast are reported to have become sick and died due to toxin poisoning originating in a marine algae bloom made worse by warmer than average water temperatures. When approached, the normally peaceful mammals are threatening and biting people who get too close.

Further up the pacific coast in Washington and Alaska, Chinook Salmon fisheries are crashing, threatening the welfare of Orca whales which depend on them. A number of factors in the decrease of salmon are being investigated, including warming Bering Sea water temperatures due to climate change that then alter marine biosystems that the salmon depend on.

More American food crops and the communities that rely on them are being impacted by changing weather patterns. This time, the Georgia peach crop is said to be down well over 50% due largely to warmer winter temperatures. The first three months of the year were the warmest ever recorded for winter months in the state, causing some orchards to bloom a month early, only to be hit by a late winter freeze.

👍 A U.S. federal agency gave approval for the construction by a Danish company of nearly 100 wind turbines off the New Jersey coast. The project will create thousands of jobs and when operational in 2025 deliver enough energy to power over 400,000 homes.

Another major insurer, announced it will no longer renew all of its existing policies in Florida. Insurance companies there and in California have been leaving their states due to recent payouts and future risks from extreme weather events and related disasters. In turn, reinsurance markets that are unregulated and which backstop the industry, have risen rates making risk management difficult while passing the costs on to those who don’t reside in the risky states. So far this year’s storms have cost property insurers billions of dollars, which is causing insurance rates to increase by double digits across the country, threatening the affordability of homes and autos for working families.

In recent years, more local TV news reporters and meteorologists have been willing to talk about climate change in their broadcasts after being silent for too long. Unfortunately, more of them are being harassed by anti-science viewers and political hacks who send threatening emails, call them names, and even stalk them. As a result, some TV weather personalities now avoid using the words climate change, even when reporting on weather-related disasters that cause death and destruction in their communities.

Scientists from Norway report that retreating glaciers are triggering the release of methane as they leave behind barren, thawing ground which allows ancient groundwater and methane gases to escape. This, they warn, can create a feedback loop that accelerates climate change across the globe.

At midway through the year, Canadian wildfires have burned 20 million acres impacting the health of businesses, residents, and tourists across the country. The economic damages in Canada due to climate change are predicted to rise to $25B dollars by 2025.

A Canadian woman is said to be the first person officially diagnosed by an emergency care doctor as suffering from climate change after she developed breathing problems during the country’s historic heat wave last month.  The WHO estimates that climate change is a contributing cause to more than 150,000 deaths a year.

Five months into the year, half of all Americans are said to have faced an extreme weather alert or event of some type that includes wildfires, heat, flooding, and storms.

👍 Nearly 60% of Swiss voters approved a climate bill last month put to a vote by referendum that will commit the country to reducing fossil fuel usage to attain net-zero emissions by 2050. The impact of climate change on Switzerland’s weather and glaciers was said to have motivated voters to turn out and approve the bill.

As the US rapidly moves from coal to renewables, concerns are growing that many thousands of workers in fossil fuel industries will lose their jobs and be left behind. Nearly 1 million workers are thought to be employed by these industries. The Biden administration has promised to help those communities hardest hit. Billions of dollars are provided for in the 2022 IRA climate bill to ease the pain of a transition that promises to be as huge as the nineteenth century industrial revolution that was made possible by fossil fuels.

A rural cooperative coal-powered power plant in coal-state North Dakota announced plans to retrofit the facility with equipment that will capture then sequester carbon from its emissions.  Skeptics point out the money could be better spent on new renewable plants that don’t emit in the first place, especially given that the carbon capture and sequestration will consume a lot of energy generated by the plant in the process.

👍 Nine European countries have pledged to work together to quadruple their offshore wind energy by 2030.  Participants said it will end up making the North Sea the largest green energy power plant in the world.

The world is said to still be losing its tropical forests which sequester huge amounts of carbon despite pledges to end deforestation. The World Resources Institute reported that the planet lost over 10 million acres of primary rainforest last year, most of that occurring in Brazil. Tree losses from all causes including wildfires and logging was said to have resulted in 2.7 gigatons of new carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere last year, about the same as emissions from entire countries like India.

👍 The state of Michigan, home of the auto industry and now led by Democrats across state government, is moving ahead with a mandate requiring utilities to accelerate the move to clean energy. The state was once a climate laggard where its largest utility still gets more than half of its energy from coal. Governor Whitmer wants to make her state a leader in clean-energy jobs, both in energy generation and in industries like electric vehicles.

Yet, other state governors, mostly Republicans, are saying no thanks to federal climate money. The EPA has offered millions of dollars in grants to help states develop and implement plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Some congressional leaders, such as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy are finally coming around to admit climate change is a real problem but are responding that we just need to plant more trees, a trillion of them, to save ourselves. Well, maybe not after all says an MIT professor who calculated that planting a trillion trees would make very little difference at all to the global warming trajectory the planet is now on.

Despite the record heat waves occurring across the south, U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama was quoted as saying that the planet is not getting warmer, and it’s all just due to it being summer. Meanwhile, the Secretary of State in Missouri is advancing anti-woke rules to restrain the promotion of ESG-ranked investments which includes climate change.

Some members of the U.S. House have added a provisions to a national defense bill that would prohibit the Pentagon from requiring federal contractors to disclose their emissions in another attempt to block the Biden’s Administration proposal that all federal contractors set targets for reducing emissions that support the 2015 Paris Agreement. This legislation is just one of dozens of poison-pill amendments to block progress in addressing climate change that include prohibiting the federal government from purchasing electric vehicles and federal agencies from achieving net-zero emissions from their facilities by 2045. Another group of Senators introduced a resolution calling on the EPA to withdraw its proposed limits on planet-warming emissions from power plants, arguing that the EPA does not have the authority to do so without congressional approval.

Excessive heat is said to have killed hundreds of workers in the US. The Biden Administration announced the first ever national hazard alert for heat along with new protections for workers who are vulnerable to high temperatures.  Tragically, some governors and states like Texas are banning local municipalities from having their own worker protection rules during heat waves, such as requiring cool-down water breaks every hour.

Former Vice President Al Gore is reported to be more worried than usual as well as lividly angry at world leaders for not moving faster on climate change. Gore said that the fossil fuel industry is not going down without a fight to slow the clean energy transition. As example, he called out the decision to appoint the head of the UAE’s state oil company as chair of the next COP28 conference.

👍 In a meeting of the International Maritime Organization, an agreement was reached to eliminate the greenhouse gas emissions from shipping to net zero by 2050. This is a huge task as shipping, with some 60,000 vessels that are on the water for decades, is said to account for at least 3% of global emissions.

Researchers in Denmark are warning that the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) could weaken or even shut down by the end of this century, far sooner than previously thought possible. The AMOC is thought to be one of the top five climate tipping points that could drastically change weather patterns in the northern hemisphere. The cause for concern is the introduction of large amounts of cold fresh water into the north Atlantic from the melting of the Greenland ice sheet which then disrupts underwater currents that are constantly moving and exchanging colder and warmer ocean waters.

👍 A group of seven major global car makers announced a partnership to build 30,000 fast EV chargers across the US and Canada starting in 2024 and to be completed by 2030. They hope this will accelerate adoption of EVs, especially by consumers who have range anxiety while traveling the long distances typical of much of the country. While there are 125,000 chargers currently available in the US, most operate slowly or are only for Tesla vehicles.

👍 The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved new rules that promise to speed up the connection of renewable energy sites to the electric grid.  In 2022 alone, more than 10,000 energy projects were said to be seeking permission to connect to their regional grids, leaving grid operators overwhelmed.

Featured image credit of record July 2023 temperatures from BBC and its sources at