With 2019 set to be a scorcher maybe this will be the year when the dangerous 35°C "wet heat" threshold is finally achievedby Bill McGuire / July 4, 2019 / Leave a comment
Imagine feeling so hot that you can barely move or breathe; that despite burning up inside, it is too humid to sweat, so your body can’t cool down. Imagine knowing that—unless you can find an air-conditioned refuge—you have less than six hours to live.
Even the blistering June heatwave across Europe that smashed records and sent temperatures soaring to almost 46°C in France, did not bring about such a nightmare scenario. As we continue to pump our atmosphere full of carbon, however, it is a horror that hundreds of millions may face later this century.
In fact, such inescapable heat and humidity is nothing less than the logical end product of an ominous pattern of extreme weather that is making itself ever more conspicuous.
When a once-stable climate system begins to break down, the signs become clear for all to see.
An age of extremes
More and more, the weather swings wildly from one extreme to another, smashing records on an almost daily basis that have stood for many decades, even centuries.
Over the last twenty years, in particular, floods and droughts have become more prevalent and more severe, storms more powerful, and cold snaps more intense.
But the most obvious symptom that climate collapse is accelerating can be found in the increasingly frequent, longer lasting and pernicious heat-waves that are now a global phenomenon.
Worldwide, twenty of the hottest years on record have occurred in the last twenty-two, so this should really come as no surprise to anyone.
The blistering Saharan heat that clothed Europe last week saw records obliterated as temperatures came within a hair’s breadth of an all-time high 46°C in France and reached more than 44°C in Spain. June temperature records also fell in Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic.
Five of the hottest European summers of the last five hundred years have roasted the continent since the beginning of the century—so this latest heatwave simply flags up a trend that will become ever more apparent as the atmosphere becomes increasingly carbon drenched.
The impact of climate change
The fact is that last week’s heatwave was made between five and 100 times more likely as a consequence of the climate emergency. It also builds on the global heatwave of 2018, which…