In 2067, when my son is my age, will he look back at this month as the start of serious action to tackle global heating—or as just another signpost on the road to hothouse hell?by Bill McGuire / August 6, 2019 / Leave a comment
Flip-flopping between blistering heat-waves and biblical downpours, July 2019 was a month to forget for many. But it will be one that climate scientists will long remember as marking an especially ominous hike in climate breakdown caused by global heating.
The tally of extreme weather events for the month just goes on and on: high temperature records smashed across the UK and western Europe; unprecedented summer frosts in Germany; Siberia on fire; 90°F temperatures in Alaska; 650 lives lost to monsoon rains in South and South East Asia; 20 million people flooded out in China; the Greenland Ice Sheet losing as much ice during the month as in any normal year. And I could go on.
It is hardly a surprise, and the numbers are still being crunched, but it looks almost certain that July 2019 will prove to be the hottest month ever recorded. Most disturbing of all, the average global temperature for July was 1.2°C above pre-industrial times, meaning that the 1.5°C guardrail—marking the transition from relatively stable climate to catastrophic, all-pervasive climate chaos—is now clearly within sight.
It was also the month when global heating and the climate breakdown it is spawning sidled up close and personal. Just a week after UK temperatures peaked at an all-time high of 38.7°C, torrential rains brought a dam to the brink of collapse in Whaley Bridge, just 25 miles up the road.
The same deluge led to my teenage son’s international scout camp being abandoned and its five thousand attendees being sent on their way. Mud-spattered and exhausted on his return home, Fraser told me the activities on day one were fun, but the rest of the time he had spent digging trenches to keep the water at bay—unsuccessfully. I felt like saying it would be good practice for the climate-broken world he would likely endure in later life, but decided it wasn’t the best time.
Nonetheless, this is the crux of the matter. Will today’s teenagers, in middle age and beyond, be digging trenches to hold back the sea and bursting rivers—or will July 2019 prove to be a game changer, at last forcing the world’s governments to see global heating for what it is—a cataclysmic threat to our lives and livelihoods; arguably to our whole civilisation—and…