London: The head of the UN weather agency says he hopes a heat wave sweeping Europe and setting record-high temperatures in Britain serves as a “wake-up call” for governments and voters to do more on climate change. World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said Tuesday a “negative trend” of increasing heat waves is expected to continue for decades – at least until the 2060s – independent of our success in climate mitigation efforts.
He said the world has been “doping the atmosphere” by injecting more and more greenhouse gases into the air. UN officials said the same people most vulnerable to the coronavirus pandemic were likely to be particularly affected: the elderly, the sick, and people with compromised respiratory systems.
Britain shatters its record for highest temperature ever
Britain shattered its record for the highest temperature ever registered Tuesday amid a heat wave that has seized swaths of Europe, and the national weather forecaster predicted it would get hotter still in a country ill-prepared for such extremes.
The typically temperate nation was just the latest to be walloped by unusually hot, dry weather that has gripped the continent since last week, triggering wildfires from Portugal to the Balkans and leading to hundreds of heat-related deaths. Images of flames racing toward a French beach and Britons sweltering – even at the seaside – have driven home concerns about climate change.
The UK Met Office registered a provisional reading of 40.3C in Coningsby, central England. Before Tuesday, the highest temperature recorded in Britain was 38.7 C (101.7 F), a record set in 2019.
The nation watched the mercury rise with a combination of horror and fascination. With several hours of intense sunlight ahead, the record could go even higher.
The sweltering weather has disrupted travel, health care and schools in a country not prepared for such extremes.
Many public buildings, including hospitals, don’t even have air conditioning, a reflection of how unusual such extreme heat is in the country better known for rain and mild temperatures.