Heatwaves and Climate Change

Heatwaves and Climate Change

Heatwaves and Climate Change
“One of the big questions in the climate change debate: Are humans any smarter than frogs in a pot?
If you put a frog in a pot and slowly turn up the heat, it won’t jump out. Instead, it will enjoy the nice
warm bath until it is cooked to death. We humans seem to be doing pretty much the same thing.”
Jeff Goodell
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With forecasts predicting that the mercury is due to hit at least 34°C in the South-East of England
this week, and temperatures above 30°C in vast parts of Europe, heatwaves appear to be becoming
a normal part of summer. For most of the UK, the temperature needs to hit 25°C for three
consecutive days to be classed as a heatwave; to date, the all-time UK temperature record is 38.5°C
which was recorded in Faversham in August 2003. So, why is this?
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Numerous studies have documented that human-induced climate change has increased the
frequency and severity of heatwaves across the globe. Since the late 1800s, climate change caused
by humans has warmed the Earth’s average temperature by around 1 degree Celsius. Although that
doesn’t seem like much, a relatively small warming of the average temperature results in a large
jump in extreme heat. The 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years, with 2015-
2018 making up the top four.
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A 2018 report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) called for “urgent and
unprecedented changes” to achieve a reduction in carbon emissions of 45% by 2030. That’s the
necessary minimum if we want to keep the increase in global warming to 1.5°C, beyond which the
report warned of catastrophic results including flooding, extreme weather events, drought and
famine. However, the UN has warned that the goal of limiting global warming to below 2°C is in
danger because major economies, including the US and the EU, are falling short of their pledges.
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As a reaction to heatwaves on a regional level, cities in America have been trialling new measures
aimed to heatproof and protect their populations against high temperatures such as tree-planting to
create shade for pedestrians and cars, using white-coloured roofs to reflect the sun and adding
plants and gardens to roofs to help trap heat. Individually, we can all do our bit, such as using public
transport or electric cars, installing solar panels and eating less meat.
Prime Production is proud to support the UN and other international organisations seeking to
manage climate change in a sustainable way.
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