A portion of this heatwave is climate change, that is definite. UK, July 2018

by Fred Miller, July 2018

This dry spell, from the beginning of June to the 19th July has been the driest on record since 1961.

The BBC described it like this:

After weeks of hot and sunny weather, it’s official – the UK is experiencing its driest start to a summer since modern records began in 1961.

Just 50.8mm of rain fell between 1 June and 19 July, comfortably lower than the previous record of 58mm set in 2013.

England has been particularly dry, with only 21.4mm of rain since the beginning of June.

A Met Office spokesman told the BBC there was no “significant sign” of change “any time soon”.

The New Scientist editorial on 7 July 2018 was clear that we can now call this sort of heat wave a climate change event. Research by the The World Weather Attribution project on the high temperatures of June – August 2017 reported that:

human greenhouse gas emissions had increased the chances of seeing a summer as hot as 2017 by at least a factor of 10“ and they think the numbers are likely to be similar for this year’s heat waves. This matters because climate change is frequently seen as a problem for another day. There can no longer be an excuse for that. Just look out your window and say hello to a warmer world. “

So, that factor of 10 is expected to be similar this year.

Extreme weather events are spending more time in one place due to climate change which is changing the jet stream, making it more looped. This traps areas of high or low pressure. This will prolong a heat wave or a cold period. This summer has seen worldwide extreme weather, with deadly forest fires in Greece, California, heat waves and storms in Japan, and north Africa suffering some of the hottest temperatures ever.

The Guardian: (13 July, Jonathan Watts) reports that:

The concern is that weather fronts – hot and cold – are being blocked more frequently due to climate change. This causes droughts and storms to linger, amplifying the damage they cause. This was a factor in the recent devastating floods in Japan, where at least 150 people died after rainfall up to four times the normal level.

Underscoring the link, a new report from scientists at the World Weather Attribution group indicates that man made climate change and its effect on rainfall made the recent Cape Town drought three times more likely.

There is now a whole field of climate science studying the attribution of extreme weather events to human global warming. It shows the increased probability of such events occurring, as a result of human GHG emissions. I think the mainstream media is not being responsible in its general omission of reference to this.

There is a hint from some reporters (such as a weather presenter on Channel 5, in a heatwave special!) that this is all inevitable. “The climate is just, well, changing.” I would like to tell them: No, it is not like that. For at least 26 years, we have been absolutely sure that our emission of greenhouse gases will bring this about, and now it is.

Twenty six years ago, governments started to talk about this at the 1992, Earth Summit, in Rio de Janeiro. The Agenda 21 process was initiated to bring about sustainability. But then some thing else took over: the push for unfettered economic global growth, that would not be stopped by anything. The governments and corporations – decided on this path. It did not happen by chance it was decided upon.

But what is also insidious are comments like a recent Times column (Tom Whipple, 27 July) which states that climate change will be a mere blip in the earth’s geological history, and ‘there is no need to panic’. So any problem is not really a problem, because it will not feature much in the fossil record, when a different species looks back in 50 million years! How very helpful. I hope Tom Whipple reminds himself of this when he encounters any problem!



Posts on these blog pages are the personal views of the authors only and are not intended to represent any agreed or general view on the part of GlosCAN.org.

3 thoughts on “A portion of this heatwave is climate change, that is definite. UK, July 2018

  1. And there is more exceptionally high that is heat likely to come between now and 2022.

    This is an extract from the article link below.

    “To check if our predictions are accurate and reliable, we conducted a series of a posteriori predictions, or “hindcasts”.
    We found our system was both accurate (able to predict what actually happened in the future) and reliable (on average, it did not predict events that did not occur).”


  2. A good piece on ‘attribution science’, appeared in the Scientific American, starting off looking at the floods in Oxford in 2003 and climate scientist Myles Allen. It also quotes the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, who had a recent special issue: ‘Three papers, for the first time in the Bulletin’s history, suggested that the studied events not only were influenced by climate change but could not have occurred without it.’

    Climate change may not have featured in UK mainstream media reporting as much as it should have, but Channel 4 showed an interview with Kathryn Brown, Head of Adaptation at the House of Commons Climate Change Committee.

    ITV had a report entitled ‘UK should prepare for more heatwaves and drought due to climate change, experts say’, and CNN featured the UK’s summer heat and this year’s heat across the northern hemisphere generally. The latter quotes Michael Mann, a climate scientist and director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University: ‘The impacts of climate change are no longer subtle… We are seeing them play out in real time in the form of unprecedented heat waves, floods, droughts and wildfires. And we’ve seen them all this summer.’ The article also has a good world temperatures map.

    Although some in the UK may feel that there has been heat like this before, Simon Lee on Twitter showed the global nature of the heatwave (as well as unprecedented heat in some places, for example Algeria setting a new African temperature record) quoting information from NASA.

    Will this heat wave help us to break the climate silence? George Marshall of Climate Outreach describes some ideas about how to do this, and there is more information and research from the organisation which is well worth looking at.

    This material was put together by a GlosCAN Supporter. Many thanks!

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