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Climate expert has a grim warning amid UK's latest heatwave

Tom Pashby

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Climate expert has a grim warning amid UK's latest heatwave

Featured Image Credit: Renato Granieri/Tom Wang/Alamy

A climate expert has issued a stark warning about the UK’s future following the latest heatwave to sweep the country.

This week saw the mercury top 30C in some places, just weeks after July’s record-breaking 40C day sparked travel chaos across the country.

And according to Dr Mariam Zachariah, scorching summers are likely to be the norm by 2050.

The research associate at Imperial College London’s Grantham Institute told LADbible: “Global average temperatures have risen by 1.2C since pre-industrial times and that this rise is mainly due to human activity warming the planet.”

Last month's heatwave saw large fires igniting across the country. Credit: Alamy/ Guy Corbishley
Last month's heatwave saw large fires igniting across the country. Credit: Alamy/ Guy Corbishley

Dr Zachariah works on the World Weather Attribution initiative, an ongoing project that aims to identify links between extreme weather events and the climate emergency.

“It’s clear that the record-breaking temperatures we saw during this heatwave have been made at least 10 times more likely due to human-induced greenhouse gas emissions,” she claims.

“Such temperatures, which have a one-in-1000 chance in today’s climate, can be expected to occur more frequently in the absence of mitigation. By 2050, chances can be as high as one-in-30.”

The future of the UK's climate is looking increasingly bleak, experts have warned. Credit: Tom Wang/ Alamy
The future of the UK's climate is looking increasingly bleak, experts have warned. Credit: Tom Wang/ Alamy

July’s infamous heatwave supposedly broke maximum daytime heat records in seven different locations, as well as maximum night-time temperatures.

Extreme temperatures aren’t just uncomfortable; they can take a real toll on our health, as Dr Zachariah warns: “Temperatures are critical for human health. We need to have our bodies constantly cooled by the ambient air, which is why, despite our bodies being around 37C, we are comfortable at room temperature which is around 20C.

“When the ambient temperature doesn’t go below 25C, like during the recent heatwave, it robs our bodies of a chance to rest. This can exacerbate underlying health conditions and is especially dangerous for babies and the elderly.”

Brits are expected to flock to the beaches this weekend as the latest heatwave hits. Credit: Daniel Bond/ Alamy
Brits are expected to flock to the beaches this weekend as the latest heatwave hits. Credit: Daniel Bond/ Alamy

Anyone living or travelling through the parts of the UK worst hit by the heatwave will likely remember the travel chaos, as well as fires which pushed emergency services and mobile networks to the limit.

Dr Zachariah explains: “In the UK we’re used to cooler temperatures for most of the time, and certainly not over 40C when it does get hot. Subsequently, most residential properties are not equipped to cool indoor temperatures. We need far more retrofitting of existing buildings – that means things like better insulation.

“We also need to think about wider problems like the impact of both extreme heat and longer-term ambient temperatures on our soil and food crops. Berries in the UK are ripening before sweetening happens and degraded soils make it harder to grow nutritious food at all.”

The aftermath of a wildfire in Surrey during last month's heatwave. Credit: Alamy/ Gillian Pullinger
The aftermath of a wildfire in Surrey during last month's heatwave. Credit: Alamy/ Gillian Pullinger

So what can the average person can do to help tackle the climate emergency? Dr Zachariah suggests:

  • Educate ourselves about the climate emergency and the actions we can take
  • Make lifestyle choices like use lower-carbon transport and eat more plant-based foods
  • Follow the advice from public authorities. For example, closing curtains and drinking more water during very hot days

Topics: Weather, News, Global Warming

Tom Pashby
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