Every summer, a man dressed in a Darth Vader suit goes for a sprint through Death Valley’s blistering temperatures.
But by the end of the century, he may not have to travel much farther than outside his front door to recreate his daring stunt in temperatures hot enough to fry an egg.
A new interactive research report from Climate Central says that “dramatic warming” will affect more than 1,000 cities before the end of the century.
“By the end of this century, summers in most of the 1,001 cities we analyzed will feel like summers now in Texas and Florida (in temperatures only, not humidity),” the report reads. “And in Texas, most cities are going to feel like the hottest cities now in the Lone Star State, or will feel more like Phoenix and Gilbert in Arizona, among the hottest summer cities in the U.S. today.”
According to the map, no city will be left unscathed by an upward shift in temperatures. For example, Maine is home to some of the nation’s coolest average temperatures. In today’s climate, Portland, Maine, has an average summer temperature of 76 degrees. But by 2100, average temperatures will have jumped all the way up to 86 degrees.
Overall, temperatures are expected to rise by 7 to 10 degrees over the next 85 years. And, as the report notes, those estimates do not account for humidity or other factors that could drive temperatures even higher.
So, how will things look in the nation’s hottest cities?
Lake Havasu, Arizona, reportedly has the hottest summer temperatures, with an average of 94.8 degrees. But by the turn of the century that could have risen all the way to a daily average of 114 degrees. For context, the Climate Central report says those temperatures are comparable to today’s summer heat in Kuwait City, Kuwait.
But what would Kuwait-style temperatures really mean for U.S. cities? Well, in Kuwait City, the population has to take paid holidays when it’s literally too hot to work. And, of course, people are advised to avoid outdoor activities when the temperatures are particularly hot.
Even if you’re not too concerned about how predicted changes in climate would affect the environment, soaring temperatures would almost certainly have a significant effect on the economy. And just imagine having to spend the hottest days of your summer vacation indoors because it’s actually too hot to spend a day at the beach. They used to say if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. But in 2100, an air-conditioned kitchen might just provide essential refuge from the unbearable heat outdoors.
However, it’s also important to note that all of these numbers are only estimates based on today’s greenhouse emission projections. Even if emissions stay on course through 2080, it’s impossible to know if these temperature predictions will be exact. And it’s likely that emissions will drop over the next several decades as nations around the world commit to more environmentally friendly pollution standards.
Follow Eric Pfeiffer on Twitter (@ericpfeiffer)
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