Some scientists have come up with a new name for the summer: “Dangerous Season”

The new foreboding name for the summer was coined by Erika Spanger-Siegfried, an analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists. The organization introduced the phrase in pairs on blog posts and on social media last week, and the team plans to continue using the term while disasters occur during the warm season. All 50 states are expected to experience unusually high temperatures this summer, and with a prolonged drought in much of the West, these threats could strain the power grid and lead to eclipses.

Of course, the season of danger comes at different times depending on where you live: in the southern hemisphere, summer lasts from December to February, when Australian fires can spiral out of control. However, no matter where you are, disasters in warm weather creep in in late spring and early fall, said Rachel Clitus, political director at the Union of Concerned Scientists. Schools without air conditioners are closing for “hot days” more and more often, as they did in Philadelphia in late May, when classroom temperatures rose 100 degrees.

Many climate threats lurk outside the season of danger. Think about devastating floods that hit the state of Washington and British Columbia in November, sending mudslides down highways and forcing thousands to evacuate. What makes summer especially threatening are the ways in which disasters can collide and mix. In the Gulf of Mexico, for example, major hurricanes cut off electricity and water supplies just as summer heatwaves hit. “Suddenly you have people trying to rebuild their lives who do it in dangerously hot conditions without any access to cooling, water,” Dahl explained. As extreme heat becomes more frequent and storms intensify, you are “more likely to get the coincidence of a heat wave and a big hurricane.”

Part of the thinking behind the use of the phrase ‘dangerous season’ is to make it harder for people to sweeten the climate crisis. “I just want to put it bluntly, frankly, 10, 15 years ago, when we talked about these things, we didn’t want to scare people,” Clytus said. “We wanted people to understand science and really be invited to understand the consequences. And now we are scared, terrified of what we have already sent to the world. “

Edward Maybach, director of the George Mason Climate Change Communication Center, said the “season of danger” seemed like a useful framework to help people realize they need to prepare for recurring disasters instead of react to them. “We hope that knowing that dangerous seasons are getting longer will help people, businesses and governments understand the need to take action now to protect the things they value and depend on,” Maybach wrote in an email to Grist. .

Dahl called for a “national strategy for sustainability” to coordinate efforts to help communities survive disasters and put in place policies to protect people. This means building codes in the West that require buffer space around homes to reduce the risk of fire, and national standards for thermal and smoke protection for outdoor workers. “A lot can be done locally,” she said, “but we also need to think on a much larger scale.”

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