Ever since the end of July, the Middle East has been experiencing an unbearable heatwave combining abnormally soaring temperatures and painfully high levels of humidity. A combination that has left millions struggling to cope with heat so severe, it has actually claimed lives .
From Turkey and Iran to the Gulf and Egypt, temperatures reaching 40 degrees Celsius have become the norm this past week, at least for the fortunate countries, while some of the more unfortunate countries have experienced temperatures reaching and even surpassing 50 degrees Celsius .
The severity of the heatwave has caused frequent power outages and water supply cuts in some countries such as Iraq, Lebanon and Israel and it has left millions in refugee camps struggling with dehydration and heatstroke. It even prompted Iraq to declare a mandatory four-day holiday and Amman municipal workers to spray people with water in the streets.
Despite all of these treacherous conditions, the media continues to frame this heatwave as an isolated incident, a somehow normal occurrence that happens every once in a while.
It is thus failing to provide context and failing to raise a very important question: Is this latest installment of abnormal weather occurrences a consequence of worsening climate change?
Both science and recent events say a resounding yes. Many scientific studies conducted over the years have indicated that human-induced climate change has increased the frequency and severity of heat waves across the globe.
A 2012 study, co-authored by NASA climate scientist James Hansen, examined six decades of global temperature data and concluded that a sharp increase in the frequency of extremely hot summers can only be the result of human-caused global warming.
"Our analysis shows that it is no longer enough to say that global warming will increase the likelihood of extreme weather and to repeat the caveat that no individual weather event can be directly linked to climate change. To the contrary, for the extreme hot weather of the recent past, there is virtually no explanation other than climate change." Hansen wrote in a Washington Post article .
Most recently in April, a study that looked at heat waves from 25 climate models over the period from 1901-2005 as well as projections for 2006-2100, found that 75 percent of the time heatwaves are caused by climate change.
"With every degree of warming it is the rarest and the most extreme events, and thereby the ones with typically the highest socio-economic impacts, for which the largest fraction is due to human-induced greenhouse gas emissions,” Swiss researchers Erich Fischer and Reto Knutti wrote.
In addition, a study published in the journal of Environmental Research Letters made headlines in 2013 as it projected that areas of the world hit by heatwaves are set to double in size by 2020 and continue to grow in coming decades due to the effect of greenhouse gases. The study also predicted that the Middle East would be one of the regions most affected.
This Middle Eastern heatwave is not an isolated incident. There has been an exceptionally high number of extreme heatwaves this past decade all over the globe, which is the same period of time global warming has caused the Earth's highest temperature. And as scientists predicted, their frequency and severity are definitely on the rise.
In June for example, two massive heatwaves hit Pakistan and India, the latter killing more than 2,300 people making it the fifth deadliest in recorded world history . Both of those occurrences were linked to climate change by scientists.
For a region that experiences high temperatures on a normal basis, is home to millions of refugees with insufficient resources, and is home to countries prone to cuts to electricity and water supply, climate change poses a serious threat.
However, solutions will never arise unless people actually start to accept global warming and its consequences as facts, not myths. Only then can real progress happen.