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The Student-Run Newspaper of Townsend Harris High School at Queens College

The Classic

The Student-Run Newspaper of Townsend Harris High School at Queens College

The Classic

With record-breaking heat the story of the summer, Harrisites discuss where climate change has entered their lives

With+record-breaking+heat+the+story+of+the+summer%2C+Harrisites+discuss+where+climate+change+has+entered+their+lives
Amy Jiang
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Record-breaking heat waves have plagued the summer of 2023 globally, a combined effect of human-induced climate change and the El Niño weather pattern. In the United States, some stand-out instances of extreme heat have been seen in Arizona, central Texas, and southern California, where temperatures remain well above 100°F. However, rises in temperature pose a health threat everywhere, particularly in places where people aren’t used to the heat. This includes New York City, which itself underwent a heat advisory from July 27th to the 31st, with peaking highs of 94°F. Additionally, there have been several instances of natural disasters stemming from the hot weather, such as extreme precipitation and wildfires, around the world. 

These factors have raised concern amongst students involving their futures on the warming planet. Harrisites noted changes they have made to their usual summer routines as a result of the heat. 

“I definitely felt a difference in the heat levels during the month of July. There were a few days where it was really hot, and we would blast the AC. I went to Washington DC for a trip, too, and it was even hotter and more humid there compared to New York City,” said senior Briana Mach. “The temperatures have not felt normal at all,” she added. 

“Last summer was a bit cooler,” said junior Hayden Wong. “It was too hot to play any sports so I’ve been slacking physically.”

Senior Dominique Silaban, who worked at a summer camp for young children this summer, said, “On days that it was really hot, I noticed that each group added an extra pool or sprinkler [session] for their kids, and reduced time at certain spots that were directly exposed to the sun, for example, the basketball court, tennis court, softball and soccer fields.”

Currently, an intensive heat dome has enveloped the Lower 48 states, with more present in southern Europe and parts of Asia. Heat domes are natural phenomenons that are formed over the course of weeks when a crest of high pressure increasingly adds onto an area, trapping and heating the air inside. An El Niño weather pattern is also in effect, meaning warm water from the Pacific Ocean is being pushed east towards the west coast of North America; this has influenced warm air and intensive humidity in parts of Canada and the northern part of the U.S., as well as drought in other areas of the world. These make the heat waves in these places worse than they already are.

Deaths and illnesses associated with heat are also on the rise again, such as heat strokes, fainting, and the potentially fatal hyperthermia. This poses serious problems for citizens who have inadequate cooling systems, especially the elderly and sickly The CDC released graphs displaying a prominent spike in diagnosed heat-related illnesses from July, as well as data showing the rise in heat fatalities from recent years.

“My family in California fears heat stroke even more,” said Hayden. “My grandma hasn’t been walking as far, [which is] her daily exercise, because she’s been experiencing the harsh weathers that have slowly been creeping up on the East Coast.”

Freshman Josiah Wat visited Los Angeles,California in early July. He said, “It was really hot outside so I tried to stay in the shade.”

Though the coincidence of these events are natural, scientists say that without human impact, the extreme temperatures in North America and Europe would have been impossible, and the heat wave in China would have only occurred every 250 years. Their study predicts that such heat waves will be far more common now, occurring about every fifteen years in the US/Mexico region; every ten years in Southern Europe and every five years in China. Furthermore, there has been an increase in the frequency and severity of storms throughout the world. 

Students shared similar sentiments towards an urgency for change, hoping for changes in climate policy.

“I think that the climate crisis is a pressing issue, and we need to take action to stop it from harming our future generation,” said Briana. “Whether that be protesting, advocating for climate change bills, or simply recycling your bottles, we need to help slow down the crisis. Anything we can do to help is definitely worthwhile.”

“I wish for our climate to slowly balance out, and I hope that those who have the power to do something will do something about it,” said Hayden. 

Dominique expressed fear towards some people’s attitudes toward climate change. She said, “There are lots of people that disregard [the current state of our climate] because they believe that it will even out in the long run or that it’s irreversible, so they don’t care. That scares me the most for our future because I think regardless of whether the outcome is futile or not, we as a society should at least try to incorporate some sort of change whether it be lifestyle or how we think to make a better impact on the climate and the environment.”

The United Nations will be hosting a Climate Ambition Summit in September, at their New York headquarters, to “accelerate action” towards reducing greenhouse emissions. Though the lifestyle changes mentioned will persist, there is yet hope for improvement, if the right decisions are made in the near future.

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Amy Jiang
Amy Jiang, Art Editor
Amy is a senior at Townsend Harris High School. She enjoys trying out a variety of new hobbies. Recently, she has been trying to learn embroidery and rollerblading.
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