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VICTOR JOECKS: How a Tonga volcano contributed to Las Vegas’ record heat

Las Vegas’ record-setting heat is miserable. Is it global warming? Or is it something else?

On Sunday, Las Vegas hit a record 120 degrees. Temperatures are expected to remain high all week. The daily high temperature is finally expected to drop below 110 degrees this weekend. That’s still ridiculously hot. Local hospitals are treating people for pavement burns. Sadly, the heat has already killed several people in Clark County.

The national mainstream media blames global warming.

“Climate change is driving extreme heat waves across the world and will continue to deliver dangerous weather for decades to come, research shows,” Reuters reported.

“Climate crisis fuels our warming world,” a CNN story on the heat wave read. The Associated Press warned of “the chaos that comes from a warmer planet.”

On X, the Nevada Democrat Party attacked Gov. Joe Lombardo for ending “the state’s climate plan.”

But consider this. In January 2022, a huge underwater volcano erupted in Tonga, an island nation in the southwest Pacific Ocean. The blast sent a massive amount of water into the Earth’s stratosphere. In August 2022, NASA reported it was “equal to 10 percent of the water already present in that atmospheric layer.”

Major volcanic eruptions “typically cool Earth’s surface by ejecting gases, dust and ash that reflect sunlight back into space,” NASA wrote. In contrast, “water vapor traps heat.”

That led to predictions from scientists. In September 2022, Live Science wrote, “50 million tons of water vapor from Tonga’s eruption could warm Earth for years.” The Associated Press reported in 2022 that the eruption “could wind up warming the Earth.”

NPR reported at the time that it usually takes two to three years for “sulfate aerosols from volcanoes to fall out of the stratosphere. But the water from the Jan. 15 eruption could take 5-10 years to fully dissipate.”

Do the math and you’re looking at higher temperatures in 2024. Hmm.

Late last month, New Scientist confirmed it. “Record amount of water from 2022 Tonga eruption is still in atmosphere,” it reported. That water is “possibly contributing to global warming.”

Given how many of their past climate predictions haven’t come true, you would think scientists would be bragging about getting one right. Nope. The volcano’s role in increasing global temperatures is either ignored or downplayed. It appears climate alarmists fear attention on it will complicate their global warming alarmism.

And it does. It’s a reminder that the climate and mankind’s response to it consists of more than one variable. Once you acknowledge that, the push to eliminate fossil fuels falls apart.

Look at climate-related deaths. They’re down more than 95 percent in the past century. A major reason is that the energy from fossil fuels has helped raise global living standards. When people are wealthier, they can afford things such as air conditioners and higher quality construction. The latter limits the devastation and death from natural disasters such as hurricanes. Even if you believe human activity contributes to global warming, cheap, reliable fuel saved dramatically more lives than a slightly cooler globe would have.

Mankind can’t control the weather, but innovation — powered by fossil fuels — has made all temperatures much more bearable.

Contact him at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on X.