Named the main cause of deadly global heat waves


The deadly heatwave that has hit Europe and the US in recent weeks is undoubtedly to blame for the human-caused climate crisis, scientists have proven. As their analysis showed, both would be practically impossible without global warming caused by the burning of fossil fuels. Another debilitating heat wave in China has become 50 times more likely due to the climate crisis, writes The Guardian.

The results make it abundantly clear that human-induced global warming is already destroying lives and livelihoods around the world, making the need to cut emissions even more pressing. Such violent heatwaves are no longer uncommon, scientists say, and they will intensify as emissions continue to rise. If the world warms by 2 degrees, it will happen every two to five years.

A March report by leading climate scientists, endorsed by the world’s governments, said: “The window of opportunity to secure a livable and sustainable future for all is fast closing.” The latest analysis showed how quickly this window closes.

Earlier in July, temperature records were broken in many places in Southern Europe, the western United States, Mexico and China, leading to heat-related deaths and wildfires. The first week of July saw the highest global temperatures on record. The researchers found that greenhouse gas emissions have caused temperatures to rise 2.5°C in Europe, 2°C in North America and 1°C in China than if humanity hadn’t changed the global atmosphere.

“Such heatwaves are no longer uncommon, and most importantly, these extreme events are killing people, especially destroying the lives and livelihoods of the most vulnerable,” says Dr. Friederike Otto from Imperial College London, who was part of the analysis team.

“Politicians often say they care about normal people and the poor,” she says. – If we really valued people, then it would be quite obvious what we need to do. I don’t think stronger evidence has ever been presented on a scientific question.”

It is “absolutely important” that governments agree to phase out fossil fuels at the UN climate summit Cop28, which opens on November 30, Dr. Otto said. Summit President Sultan Al Jaber is also the CEO of the state-owned oil and gas company of the host country, the United Arab Emirates. “We still have time to secure a safe and healthy future for ourselves,” says Dr. Otto. “If we don’t do this, tens of thousands of people will continue to die from heat-related causes every year.”

Julie Arrighi, director of the climate center for the Red Cross and Red Crescent, says: “Extreme heat is deadly and rapidly worsening.” She said it was critical for countries to take action to protect people from the heat. Last week in the UK, experts called the government’s adaptation plan “very weak”. On Monday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak signaled that he may delay or withdraw some of the Greens’ policies under pressure from his party’s right wing.

A similar series of heatwaves across the northern hemisphere in 2018 was also deemed impossible without global warming. Scientists have now analyzed more than 500 extreme weather events and found that 93% of heat waves and 68% of droughts have become more severe and/or more likely due to anthropogenic emissions.

More than 61,000 people died during the European heat wave of 2022, including more than 3,000 in the UK, according to a recent study. In another study, it was estimated that over the past three decades, millions of people around the world have died from heatwaves due to the climate crisis. However, global progress in reducing fossil fuel burning remains very slow, and the G20 became the latest group whose plans were blocked by opposition from fossil fuel states, led by Saudi Arabia on Saturday.

A new analysis by the World Weather Attribution group used peer-reviewed methods to quantify the impact of the climate crisis on recent heatwaves. They used weather data up to July 18 and computer models to compare today’s 1.2 degree Celsius global warming climate with the cooler climate of the late 1800s.

The study found that heatwaves in Europe and the US are at least 950 and 4400 times more likely to occur due to global warming, making it almost certain that they were the result of anthropogenic emissions. In China, the probability of a heatwave has been increased 50 times.

In today’s hot climate, such heatwaves are expected about every five years in China, every 10 years in Europe and 15 years in the US, but will become more frequent as emissions continue to rise. A worsening El Niño, a natural climate event, likely added some heat to the heatwaves, but global warming from burning fossil fuels was the main reason for their severity, scientists say.

Gareth Redmond-King of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit in the UK says: “As we continue to burn fossil fuels, we are exacerbating our climate impact. This will not stop until we cut emissions to net zero. Politicians who are trying to delay climate action are capturing more of these extremes.”

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