Extreme Summer: How climate change turned a season of joy into a season of disaster
clock In recent years, hardly a day has gone by during the summer season without warnings of record-breaking heat, wildfire smoke, flash floods and disasters, or fast-escalating hurricanes. Air quality has declined, traditions have been suspended, and what has historically been a season of joy for millions of people has turned in a season of anxiety. The reason, in many cases: Climate change. Extreme Summer, a series of stories that are publishing this summer by The Washington Post, will explore how this season is being fundamentally changing in the United States and abroad. Although temperatures are warming faster during other seasons in many places, summer is when the impact is often felt most strongly. Intense heat and a record-breaking dry spell, covering more than 40 percent of the continental U.S. for nearly two years, has put pressure on livestock herds across the Great Plains. Read more European militaries are fighting fires this summer that are burning with ever greater scope and intensity, battling record blazes across a continent that is also seized by war in Ukraine and the need to defend against an increasingly dangerous Kremlin. From the high cliffs of Portugal to the stony mountains of Greece , militaries have been the wildfire responders of last resort, bringing air resources and logistical capabilities that far outmuscle their civilian counterparts. Read the story . As climate change warms the world, summers are lengthening, temperatures are climbing and the seasons markers blooming wildflowers, migrating butterflies and songbirds are undergoing a visible shift. Find your county to explore 50 years of weather data. Read the story More than 40 years ago, Congress established a critical safety net, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, to help people financially survive frigid winters and their heating costs. But sweltering summers are now creating a huge new financial burden for Americans whose air conditioners run up energy bills for longer periods of time. Read the story Amid record-breaking heat waves, larger and longer wildfires and a mega-drought, many officials are limiting or prohibiting them. As campfires are snuffed out, so is the American tradition of roasting marshmallows and hot dogs, and the far more ancient ritual of human bonding around crackling flames. Read the story While places like California and Washington have adopted workplace rules to address heat exposure, many other states attempts to mandate these protections have been blocked or weakened following opposition from industry groups representing agriculture, construction and other business interests. Read the story The summer has become prone to some of the most costly annual disasters in the United States, with hurricanes, torrential rainstorms, droughts and wildfires. One battered N.C. community illustrates how summer, fueled in part by climate change, is proving an especially perilous and costly season. Read the story. Extreme weather from climate change is putting the pressure on business owners in gateway towns around national parks that are increasingly vulnerable to wildfires, drought, rising sea levels, shrinking glaciers, and more intense storms. Read the story. The Tour de France has long been a point of pride for the French, highlighting some of their most stunning landscapes. And yet it has also showcased some of the most alarming impacts of climate change, taking cyclists through farmland parched by drought, past melting glaciers, in proximity to raging wildfires and in direct collision with a historic heat wave that saw temperatures approach 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Read the story . Climate change is altering the summer months turning a time of joy into stretches of extreme heat, dangerously polluted air, anxiety, and lost traditions. Read the story. Sign up for the latest news about climate change, energy and the environment, delivered every Thursday Understanding our climate: Global warming is a real phenomenon , and weather disasters are undeniably linked to it . As temperatures rise, heat waves are more often sweeping the globe and parts of the world are becoming too hot to survive . What can be done? The Post is tracking a variety of climate solutions , as well as the Biden administrations actions on environmental issues . It can feel overwhelming facing the impacts of climate change, but there are ways to cope with climate anxiety . Inventive solutions: Some people have built off-the-grid homes from trash to stand up to a changing climate. As seas rise, others are exploring how to harness marine energy . What about your role in climate change? Our climate coach Michael J. Coren is answering questions about environmental choices in our everyday lives. Submit yours here. You can also sign up for our Climate Coach newsletter .