As a heatwave grounded dozens of flights in the Phoenix area, media outlets took the opportunity to link the common, naturally-occurring summer weather event to man-made global warming.
Phoenix’s fourth-highest temperature on record of 119 degrees Fahrenheit Tuesday, grounded more than 40 flights. Other Southwestern cities, like Las Vegas, also saw record-high temperatures.
We often hear from climate warriors that weather is not the same as climate, but that didn’t seem to apply to this week’s heatwave.
The New York Times only took two paragraphs to mention global warming in an otherwise informative article about why airplanes can’t fly when it gets too hot (bold is my own).
As the global climate changes, disruptions like these are likely to become more frequent, researchers say, potentially making air travel costlier and less predictable with a greater risk of injury to travelers from increased turbulence.
“We tend to ignore the atmosphere and just think that the plane is flying through empty space, but of course, it’s not,” said Paul D. Williams, a professor in the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading in Britain who studies climate change and its effect on aviation. “Airplanes do not fly through a vacuum. The atmosphere is being modified by climate change.”
The Atlantic’s Ian Bogost wrote: “Flight cancellations are a perfect foundation for climate-change panic.” Bogost also explains that Bombardier CRJ used for regional transport in the southwest can’t operate at temperatures above 118 degrees Fahrenheit.
“Travelers can’t help but worry that their mobility will be impacted by near- and long-term effects of climate change,” Bogost wrote. “Much of the coverage tracking the American Airlines cancellations pegs climate change as a direct or indirect cause of the disruption.”
To be fair, Bogost said the groundings were caused by more than “the reading on a thermometer.” He mentioned the economic and engineering constraints in the modern airline industry.
Climate Central reported that “[h]eat waves are intimately tied to climate change as rising background temperatures make them more intense and common.”
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