Here in the UK we have been experiencing an oppressive heatwave for the last 7 weeks, with temperatures reaching into the 30s and staying there for several days on end, with up to 36°C predicted for this week. Yet, back in April, we were rueing the fact that the winter seemed to be going on for ever and were fed up with rain, more rain and yet more rain. And perhaps we should not have criticised so much rain, as it filled up the UK reservoirs, enabling the country to survive this long dry spell.
These extremes of weather are all part of a trend that we must expect to see more and more, as climate change bites deep into our world. Unpredictable and more extreme weather patterns.
Yet, as bad as temperatures have been in the UK, we are not the only ones experiencing extreme weather events. It would appear that much of northern Europe has been experiencing similar high temperatures. A recent article in The Times, “A worrying trend of heatwaves” by Paul Simon (20th July 2018) gives further details.
Yes, records are not just being broken in the UK and Europe but across the world. At Quriyat on the coast of Oman the world’s hottest ever night on record was measured, with an overnight lowest temperature of 42.6°C on June 25.
The highest reliable temperature in Africa was recorded at 51.3°C in Algeria on July 5th. Many countries in Europe have also had their warmest average April and May on record, and Norway set a national high temperature record of 33.5°C and Finland hit 33.4°C. Temperatures in the Arctic circle have also reached 30°C.
New Zealand, in the southern hemisphere, has its summer whilst we are in winter and, last December to January was the hottest summer ever recorded.
Other parts of the world, which are usually pretty sultry, are also suffering:
Taiwan: highest recorded temperature of 40.3°C on July 10;
United Arab Emirates: 51.4°C on July 10;
Pakistan: highest temperature for April recorded at 50.2°C.
Japan: highest ever recorded temperature of 41.1°C in Kumagaya, as the country struggles to recover from its worst flooding and landslide disasters for years.
Heatwaves are becoming more extreme and more frequent.
A recent piece on the Quartz website reiterates much of these findings:
Perhaps people (climate change deniers) can shrug their shoulders and explain it away as an interesting phenomenon but nothing significant. But it would appear that, in addition to record daytime temperatures, there is also a significant change in night time temperatures too. Makkaur in Norway has had a record-breaking overnight temperature of 25.2°C on 18th July. According to an article in the International Journal of Climatology (cited in The Times piece), temperatures during the night are increasing faster than those in the day, so there is little respite for anybody from the oppressive daytime heat.
Cities tend to suffer the most, as buildings retain the heat longer.
Farming in the UK is also being affected: livestock are now being fed winter feed, as summer grass has withered away; reservoirs for watering vegetables are running dry and crops such as spring barley and sugar beet are being hit.
Hospitals without air conditioning are becoming extremely hot, affecting nurses and patients alike (nurses are not allowed to carry water bottles). In one Hampshire hospital, the extreme heat set off the fire alarm.
Another report from Unearthed describes how heat waves and record temperatures are occurring across the northern hemisphere. In Quebec, Canada, 34 deaths have been attributed to a heat wave. Record temperatures have been recorded too in Northern Siberia.
And, accompanying heat waves of course, there are very often wild fires or bush fires burning out of control – and probably adding to the overall effect of global warming. Damaging homes and property, as well as killing people and many of the endangered species that we care about.
In the UK, as well as in other countries, there have been a series of wildfires, which have been difficult to bring under control. And today, as I write, we have heard about devastating fires in Greece, with homes destroyed, 60+ killed or missing and people fleeing into the sea to get away from the flames. Sweden has also experienced 50 forest fires burning in mid-July.
And last year, Portugal, Canada and Australia, among others, also experienced wild fires out of control.
See also, an earlier blog and heat waves and human survivability. This cites a Lancet article about how high temperatures can reach before people start dying – this depends on the level of humidity.
2nd August 2018
Today, I have received details of two articles, which both state that there is now no doubt that human-induced climate change is responsible for the current heat waves.
The first is from The Guardian, with the headline, “Extreme global weather is ‘the face of climate change’ says leading scientist.” It cites the comments by an eminent climate scientist, Prof Michael Mann, who “declares that the impacts of global warming are now ‘playing out in real-time’“. See:
“Other senior scientists agree the link is clear. Serious climate change is “unfolding before our eyes”, said Prof Rowan Sutton, at the University of Reading. “No one should be in the slightest surprised that we are seeing very serious heatwaves and associated impacts in many parts of the world.”
The second article is from Media Lens today and is a compilation of articles from various places. It is entitled “World on Fire: Climate Breakdown” and starts with the following paragraph:
“What will it take for society to make the deep-rooted changes required to prevent the terrifying and awesome threat of climate breakdown? This summer’s extreme weather events are simply a prelude to a rising tide of chaos that will be punctuated by cataclysmic individual events – floods, heatwaves, superstorms – of increasing severity and frequency. How long before people demand radical action from governments? Or, and this is what is really needed, how long until citizens remove corporate-captured governments from power and introduce genuine democracy?”
The article gives details of the extreme temperatures recorded across the globe this summer but then gives an analysis of some of the things still being said by a climate-sceptic press, when reporting on the current heat wave: the Daily Mail; the Sun and even the BBC. All are failing to properly acknowledge that it is caused by climate change.
The Media Lens writer does not mince any words.