Massive heatwaves across the globe cause millions to feel the heat of climate change
31 July 2018. The Northern Hemisphere is experiencing one of the hottest summers in recent history, while heatwaves, droughts wildfires and massive crop shortfalls are currently occurring around the globe. Impacts have been widespread as Japan, Algeria and Canada have experienced heat-related deaths while wildfires ravage California, Greece and Sweden. Many of these countries are now experiencing the reality of climate change impacts that many poor countries have been experiencing for decades. This situation will become worse if countries, particularly those that have contributed the most to climate change, do not significantly ramp up their ambition and decrease greenhouse gas emissions to prevent more frequent and intense heatwaves. Current pledges by countries are insufficient to prevent a rise in global temperature above the Paris Agreement limit of 2°C, let alone 1.5°C.
Sven Harmeling, CARE International’s Global Policy Lead on Climate Change and Resilience says, “It is irrefutable that the likelihood and intensity of current heatwaves are exacerbated by human-caused climate change. As climate change continues to escalate, the world is experiencing its consequences in the form of record temperatures, wildfires, heat-related deaths and droughts. It is vital that humans decrease their impact on climate change by immediately shifting to renewable energies to prevent a rise in temperature above 1.5°C. If we do not see countries make a significant reduction in anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, the devastating impacts of climate change will further ravage the planet, particularly the most vulnerable many of whom are women and girls.”
Impacts of rising temperatures across the world are substantial. Examples of findings on record-breaking temperatures this summer include:
- NASA finds that June 2018 ties for the third warmest June, globally, in the 138 years of modern record-keeping, behind June 2015 and June 2016
- This summer is likely to be hottest on record in the UK finds Met Office with daily average maximum temperatures at 20.9°C.
- Many countries break all-time temperature records such as Scotland, Northern Ireland, Russia, Iraq, Canada, Japan and Algeria
- Southern Africa has been struck by massive harvest shortfall due to lack of rain and droughts which have caused intense food and nutrition insecurity
Wildfires across Europe have increased by 43% compared to the average over the last 10 years, according to the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS). Particular countries are more affected than others, such Sweden, Greece, and the UK
- Climate change impacts are likely to worsen if the world sees a rise in global average temperatures above 1.5°C, the goal agreed upon in the Paris Agreement. For example, a recent article in Nature Climate Change found that substantially more people will be exposed to record-breaking temperatures with a 2°C warming compared to 1.5°C
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