Climate change in the UK

By Claire Slee - 12 Aug 2022
How Climate Change Affects United Kingdom.

As the UK and Europe swelters in a heatwave this July and record temperatures are reached daily, there are some people who insist on comparison to the summer of 1976, the standout event for people of a certain age when they think ‘heatwave’.

These comparisons and accusations along the lines of ‘it’s just a bit hot, get over it’ are not only incredibly unhelpful, but they are plain wrong. Climate change is no longer a deniable subject and those who take notice, and are anxious, are not ‘snowflakes’ … the world is getting hotter, much more quickly, and climate patterns are varying.

The summer of 1976 was a freak occurrence, whereas the high temperatures seen over this period will become an annual expectation, and people are naturally worried. The Met Office has stated that periods of hot weather in the UK are now more than twice as long in duration compared to those of 50 years ago – such as the 1976 heatwave. We remember it so vividly as it was so unusual at the time.

In Europe, climate change generally means we will see more wind and rain, with resultant flooding, as well as more hot summers. Africa, the US, the Middle East and Australia will become drier and hotter, meaning that crops will struggle, so refugees from hunger and economic collapse will be forced to move. Pacific islands and coastal cities may disappear when the sea level rises. Wildfires across Australia, Europe and the US are now regular events rather than rare.

It is the hotter and longer spells of weather which result in heavier rains elsewhere, so that each feeds into the other in a negative feedback loop. The hotter it becomes in Africa, for example, the more it rains in Europe. The small shift in the global temperature (just over 1 Celsius) which has precipitated more extreme weather is illustrated in the bell graph here – the dangerous and unpleasant conditions are found at the lower curve of the graph.

India has just recorded its hottest spring since records began, and it is predicted that the daily temperatures will rise past 50 Celsius on a frequent basis from now on – again, the extreme conditions have changed from unusual events to a regularly expected new norm. Similar record temperatures above 50 C have been reliably recorded in Australia, Canada and the US recently. This is the future we are facing … starting now.

How Climate Change Affects United Kingdom.