8 August 2019 Climate breakdown Tom Matthews explains why European heatwaves pale in comparison to climate impacts elsewhere. I am a scientist who researches climate hazards. Last month I published research on the potential for a catastrophic cyclone-heatwave combo in the Global South. Yet over the past few weeks I have been approached by various media outlets to talk not about that hazard, but about the UK’s recent heatwave and climate change. It is always satisfying to respond to public interest around weather extremes, but there is a danger that key messages about extreme heat globally are not receiving enough airtime. It is by now very well established that hot extremes are more likely in the changed climate we are living in. Yet there is a seemingly unquenchable thirst for this story to be retold every time the UK sweats. Narratives around such acute, local events detract from critical messages about the global challenges from extreme heat. Make no mistake, maximum temperatures of 35°C or more are hot by UK standards, but such conditions are familiar to around 80 per cent of the world’s population. The headline-grabbing 46°C recently experienced by Britain’s neighbours in France is indeed unusual, but still… Read full this story
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