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  Opinion   Edit  20 Jul 2022  AA Edit | Europe boils amid climate change

AA Edit | Europe boils amid climate change

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Jul 21, 2022, 12:17 am IST
Updated : Jul 21, 2022, 12:17 am IST

The UK, used to milder climes, saw 40 C crossed for the first time in its history while France had gone through it at least twice before

A man stands on the dried out lake bottom of the Zicksee in St. Andrae am Zicksee in Burgenland, Austria on July 20, 2022. - Ongoing heat led to draining of the lake. Hundreds of fish died in the dried out lake. (Photo by Alex HALADA / AFP)
 A man stands on the dried out lake bottom of the Zicksee in St. Andrae am Zicksee in Burgenland, Austria on July 20, 2022. - Ongoing heat led to draining of the lake. Hundreds of fish died in the dried out lake. (Photo by Alex HALADA / AFP)

A large swathe of Western Europe and the UK, from Greece to Scotland, has just been through an extraordinary time of record temperatures crossing 40 degrees Celsius. This may be just another grim reminder of what havoc human-induced climate change from global warming can cause, but a wave of wildfires is adding to the woes forcing the evacuation of thousands of people. The UK, used to milder climes, saw 40 C crossed for the first time in its history while France had gone through it at least twice before. 

Compounding the problem is the fact that Europe is ill-prepared to face extreme heat, UK even more so as its rail systems and Underground (Metro) came to a screeching halt thanks to rails buckling even as aviation operations were curtailed where tarmac surfaces showed signs of melting in the heat. Made for temperatures ranging from -20 to +30 degrees Celsius, the temperature of British rails has been recorded at 62 degrees.  

Re-engineering might be possible for the future when more intense heat waves are being forecast. It is the plight of the people, particularly those living in old age homes, that is causing consternation. There may be hundreds of tips people living in the tropics can pass on about withstanding heat to the people of more temperate climes. They would, however, be confronted by bigger problems as whole societies must adapt to the changes. 

The current levels of heat, driven by greenhouse gases to the highest in about 1.25 lakh years, are globally ours to endure when the world has warmed to at about 1.1 degrees C above pre-industrial times. The message is clear enough that far more pain is in pain unless governments cut emissions.   

The world appears to be poorly placed as the worst emitters like the United States, prevented from acting thanks to the Republicans blocking mitigation proposals and China, reluctant to abandon coal as principal fuel for power, continue to contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. To endure what cannot be cured, the world would have to reconcile to even stronger extremes. 

Tags: climate change, heat wave