Advertisement

Will global warming help drive record election turnout?

Record warmth is projected to continue over the next 10 days.

NOAA projects a very warm outlook for November 5 to 9. CREDIT: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
NOAA projects a very warm outlook for November 5 to 9. CREDIT: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expects unusually warm temperatures over most of the nation to continue through election day.

Instead of seeing the kind of cold, harsh November weather that can keep some people home, most Americans who vote early or on election day will see near-ideal temps. That’s especially important since “nearly half of Americans live in precincts where long lines” to vote were a problem in the 2012 election.

Of course, since global warming is the gravest preventable threat to Americans’ health and well-being, global warming will no doubt be a major media focus in the final days.

Just kidding.

But while the media may ignore the global warming issue, human-caused warming of the planet continues unabated. Indeed, it’s now clear that 2016 will be the hottest year on record, crushing the previous record, set in 2015, which itself crushed the previous record, from 2014.

Advertisement

And if it has seemed warm to you this year in the United States, that’s because it has been the second warmest January to September on record:

CREDIT: NOAA
CREDIT: NOAA

NOAA is projecting this warmth to continue over the next five to nine days, during which time we can expect hundreds more temperature records to fall.

NOAA reports that as of October 29, this year has already seen more than 53,000 daily temperature records broken nationwide — 21,160 warm maximum (daytime) records and 32,220 warm minimum (nighttime) records. This compares to fewer than 12,000 cool daily temperature records broken (7,930 cool maximums and 3,930 cool minimums).

That’s a ratio of warm-to-cold records of more than 4.4-to-1. By comparison, the ratio for last decade (the 2000s) was about 1.9 to 1. As climatologist Gerald Meehl has explained, “If temperatures were not warming, the number of record daily highs and lows being set each year would be approximately even.”

Daily temperature fluctuations are so large at the local level that we will be seeing daily cold records for a long time. That’s why climatologists look at the statistical aggregation of records across the country over a long time. Meehl led a 2009 study that projected “the ratio of record highs to lows is likely to increase dramatically in coming decades if emissions of greenhouse gases continue to climb.”

Advertisement

If you’ve been thinking October has been awfully warm, you’re right: The ratio of warm records (5,490) to cold records (500) has been almost 11-to-1.

With this weather projected to continue over the next week, you have no excuse not to get your vote in. And, as Al Gore has explained, there is also no excuse for voting for a third party — if you care about the climate crisis.