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Ahead of a Blistering Memorial Day Weekend, Connecting Record Heat to Climate Crisis Is Critical

Increased Temperatures Also Worsen Other Summertime Weather Events

As the southeastern U.S. and other parts of the country prepare to experience record-setting temperatures this holiday weekend, we urge you to connect these extreme temperatures to the climate crisis.

Last month, the U.S. experienced the second hottest April since 1880, marking the 412th consecutive month with global temperatures above the 20th century average. But this is just the latest in a disturbing long-term trend: Each of the past 42 years has been warmer than the 20th century average. The hottest year on record was 2016, with 2015, 2017 and 2018 close behind. Based on current anomalies and historical temperature readings, 2019 is expected to be a top-10 year, with a 99.7% chance of being in the top five.

Extreme heat is dangerous, particularly to workers and other vulnerable populations. Increased heat also contributes to other summertime climate harms like stronger hurricanes, more damaging wildfires, worsening droughts and heavier downpours.

Media coverage on the climate crisis is too scarce for such an important issue. Only 56% of Americans report hearing about the overheating of our planet in the media even once a month. Media are falling short on connecting even the most obviously climate-related topics, like record-breaking, extreme heat, to the climate crisis. A Public Citizen analysis found that just 33% of 2018 pieces on extreme heat in the top 50 U.S.

newspapers mentioned the climate crisis. For top digital news sites, the figure was 38%, and for television news, just 22%.

Read Public Citizen’s memo on ways to connect extreme heat to climate in your coverage.