‘We’re in for a bit of a ride,’ warns the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), whose representatives addressed the press in Geneva.
Our #EFFIS🔥 Fire Danger Forecast for 18 July:
— Copernicus EMS (@CopernicusEMS) July 18, 2023
John Nairn, senior extreme heat advisor at the UN agency, cautions that the heatwaves are intensifying and will become more frequent. The northern hemisphere has seen a six-fold increase in prolonged and simultaneous heatwaves since the 1980s, and this trend shows no sign of abating, reports CNN.
The urgency to act on the climate crisis is echoing worldwide, says Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization, calling on world leaders to take immediate action.
Already, global temperatures have risen by 1.2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels due to human activities emitting fossil fuels. Simon Lewis, chair of global change science at the University College London, warns that the current global policies could lead to a terrifying 2.7 degrees Celsius warming by 2100.
Last month, June experienced the planet’s hottest temperatures on record, accompanied by record ocean temperatures and a decline in Antarctic ice levels. The heat surge continues in July, with the first week marking the hottest ever recorded, pushing the planet into uncharted territory.
Extreme heatwaves have devastating consequences, with premature deaths, especially among the elderly. As climate harms are unequally felt, adaptation measures are crucial. Initiatives like cool zones or drop-in centers, increased tree coverage, and renewable-powered air conditioning in care homes can help mitigate the impact on vulnerable communities.
Italy, Greece, and Spain are currently experiencing soaring temperatures, with a high-pressure anticyclone pushing up from North Africa. European countries may soon surpass the continent’s record of 48.8 degrees Celsius set in 2021. Authorities advised people to take precautions, such as staying hydrated and avoiding direct sunlight during peak hours.
The scorching heat has also primed the land for wildfires, which have wreaked havoc in Spain’s Canary Islands and Greece, forcing evacuations and causing extensive damage.
With extreme heat waves becoming the new norm, humanity must urgently address the climate crisis and transition to sustainable practices to secure a livable future for all. As we brace ourselves for this unprecedented ride, it is crucial to act decisively and collectively to combat the rising temperatures and safeguard our planet.