This Is Why We Shouldn’t Be Celebrating These Recent Heatwaves
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Much of Britain is currently in the grasp of a serious heatwave, the hottest that the country has seen since records began. However, whilst the warm weather might be a nice change for many of us, it's nothing to celebrate.
Whilst it’s nice to have some good weather for a change – although this is perhaps too much – there’s a worrying aspect to the temperatures that we’re currently experiencing.
The world is continuing to warm due to man-made climate change, and that means that everywhere around the globe is experiencing these extreme weather events, and with greater frequency.
Whilst the major problem for people in the UK right now is how to get to sleep at night, how often to apply sunscreen, and the amount of water to drink to stay hydrated, the ramifications on a global scale are huge.
The situation in the UK is so serious that the Met Office has released a rare red warning for danger to life from the heat, but the consequences are far more wide-ranging than that.
If we don’t do something about the climate at world level, events like these – as well as the horrific flooding we’ve seen in Australia and forest fires decimating swathes of Europe – will become the norm.
Before this week, the hottest temperature on record in the UK was 37.8C.
That record has only stood since 2019, and the smart money would be on it being broken again in the near future.
What does that tell us?
It tells us that the world is getting hotter, and only a fool would believe that we haven’t got anything to do with it.
Announcing their heat warning, the Met Office explained: “Extreme heat events do occur within natural climate variation due to changes in global weather patterns.
“However, the increase in the frequency, duration, and intensity of these events over recent decades is clearly linked to the observed warming of the planet and can be attributed to human activity.”
At the time, Dr Mark McCarthy, the head of the Met Office National Climate Information Centre, said: “The highest temperatures experienced in the UK tend to occur when our weather is influenced by air masses from continental Europe or North Africa – as it will be at the weekend - there is already a strongly-embedded warming due to climate change across the continent, that is increasing the likelihood of challenging the existing UK temperature record.”
A study commissioned in 2020 found that the likelihood of these extreme temperature events is increasing as time passes.
They also found that climate change is already playing a role in this.
Lead author Nikolaos Christidis said: “Climate change has already influenced the likelihood of temperature extremes in the UK.
“The chances of seeing 40°C days in the UK could be as much as 10 times more likely in the current climate than under a natural climate unaffected by human influence.
“The likelihood of exceeding 40°C anywhere in the UK in a given year has also been rapidly increasing, and, without curbing of greenhouse gas emissions, such extremes could be taking place every few years in the climate of 2100.”
So, whilst in the short term you should follow the advice of the professionals and stay in the shade, covered in sunscreen, drinking lots of water, in the longer term we need to start applying pressure on those with power to make the changes that can stop the trend, reduce the damage done to our planet, and make real and lasting plans to stop climate change before it is too late.
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