jensedman

News for nerds

Tech reporters are descending on Cupertino, California, today for Apple’s product launch event, where they’re expecting a first look at new iPhones and Apple Watches. They’ll also be hot — really hot. There’s a suffocating heatwave across the whole state, including in the Bay Area, where temperatures hit all-time highs.

These sorts of extreme heat events are becoming more common because of climate change. The odds of record-breaking heatwaves are far greater now than they were a few decades ago. They’ll be even higher in the next few decades. They’re dangerous, particularly for the elderly, the very young, and people with health conditions like high blood pressure or asthma. They’re even more dangerous when they’re paired with aging power grids like California’s that struggle under the demand for air conditioning, risking blackouts that leave people stuck in the heat.

There’s a certain dissonance to two of the biggest pieces of news coming out of California today being a new Apple Watch and a historic, life-threatening heatwave. Many tech companies happen to make their homes in Silicon Valley, a part of the country at risk from bigger fires, bigger droughts, and bigger floods as the climate continues to change.

Apple and other companies have made commitments to fighting climate change, and Apple says the Cupertino campus where today’s event takes place is powered by renewable energy. But tech companies, including Apple, are lagging behind on their promises to cut greenhouse gas emissions, according to the 2022 edition of the Corporate Climate Responsibility Monitor.

California seems to have averted the worst-case scenario in this current heatwave — the strained grid held, and the state avoided large-scale blackouts. The heat is starting to subside. But temperatures are still above normal today, and they’ll be felt by everyone at Apple’s event. It’s impossible to ignore. It’s the backdrop to everything now, especially shiny new things: a constant state of climate emergency.