WEATHER CRISIS: ‘Heatwaves like these threaten to kill thousands every year’

SCOTLAND is enduring its warmest summer on record, according to climate change campaigners.

They say the unprecedented upsurge in readings, allied to the crisis in mainland Europe and beyond, indicates that the killer heatwave’s death toll across the continent and beyond will only rise further.

According to data released by Friends of the Earth Scotland – Europe is facing a “wake up call” to face the crisis.

May, June and July this year were the hottest and sunniest May-July period ever recorded in Scotland.

The average monthly temperature for May, June and July 2018 was 12.9C.

That’s nearly half a degree above the previous hottest records for the same three-month period in 2014 and 2006.

The average monthly sunshine for May, June and July 2018 was 212.1hrs.

May was the hottest and sunniest May ever.

June was the 3rd warmest and 5th sunniest June ever.

While July was the 4th warmest and 8th sunniest July ever.

The consequences of this trend could prove devastating, says Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Director Dr Richard Dixon.

He said: “Heatwaves like these threaten to kill thousands every year in the future.

“With record temperatures, widespread wildfires and continuing droughts around the world, this summer has been a wake-up call on climate change.

“Scotland has seen crops wilting in fields, trains running at reduced speed and water shortage warnings, while other countries have seen much worse, including hundreds of deaths.

“Holidaymakers died on the beach in Greece, California looks set for another record-breaking fire season and temperatures in Spain and Portugal were forecast to reach above 45C.”

He added: “The weather is sending us very clear signals that our climate is changing in major ways.

“As records break we enter new territory for the planet and we should be worried. Some extra summer heat is no doubt welcome for many but the bigger picture is of bigger storms, more floods and more severe heatwaves.”

And while he world burns, politicians muddle. The time for talk, Dr Dixon says, is long over.

“To avoid the worst consequences of climate change, we need to reduce the climate emissions from transport, industry and farming as rapidly as possible,” he said.

“With a new climate bill already in the Scottish Parliament we need politicians from all parties to set tougher targets and put in place the policies that will move us rapidly towards a fossil-free Scotland.”

Dozens of people have died in wildfires in Greece, while Spain and Portugal are struggling to cope with temperatures exceeding 45C in places.

Eight places in Portugal reported new record temperatures.

Three people died in Spain at the weekend from heatstroke.

Sweden has just recorded its hottest summer in 250 years.

The highest in record in Europe is 48C – forecasters believe that will be beaten.

France too is sweltering in the high 30C, with forecasters warning the UK and other parts of Europe could suffer through until as late as October.

At least 74 are known to have perished in wildfires that broke out in Greece last month. Close to 200 others were injured and hundreds more saved in dramatic rescues after fleeing the flames by heading for the sea.

Scotland faces a range of other potential issues if forecasts prove correct.

NFU Scotland has already branded the weather a “dangerously dry summer” with its president Andrew McCormick saying it was crucial to support the mental health of members during such crisis.

Debate has already started as to what kind of farming Scotland would be able to sustain should these temperatures as is feared, become the norm.

Likewise, Australian farmers are already in crisis – being forced to slaughter hundreds of animals with some already rationed business warning of having just three months of diminishing water supplies left.

In Scotland, the nation’s reservoirs are lower – much lower – than usual. Low enough for Scottish Water to issue an appeal for people slow their consumption and use.

Water shortages have also hit whisky production, Blair Athol taking a decision to halt the process after its source burn was impacted.

There are suggestions too that NHS boards are having to look at planning for summer in much the same way they need to upscale to cope with the annual winter crisis.

While temperatures are expected to remain high for long period, potential heavy rains and thunderstorms could pose further issues – floods as water runs off baked land.

WANT TO LEARN MORE? Read: What the UK’s weather is telling us about the climate 

IMAGE CREDIT: cc FoxyCoxy

 

Shaun Milne is a Scottish based journalist with a particular interest in environmental issues, politics and travel.

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