Guest essays by Eric Worrall
Imagine the horror of being able to swim at Blackpool beach without needing a resuscitation team with a hypothermia kit on standby.
Climate change: 40°C summer temperatures could be common in UK by 2100
July 1, 2020 1.46am AEST
Lecturer in Environmental Science, Teesside University
A stark warning about the kind of summer that could become routine in the UK by the end of this century has been issued in a new study by the country’s Met Office.
Using temperature data and climate model simulations, the researchers tested the likelihood of UK temperatures exceeding 30°C, 35°C, and 40°C each summer over the next 80 years.
They found that if global greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, temperatures exceeding 40°C could be reached somewhere in the UK every three-and-a-half years by 2100.
If you live or have travelled in a hot climate, you might know the stifling heat that envelops your body when the thermometer breaks 40°C. But there is a difference between experiencing that kind of heat from a pool or through the window of an air conditioned hotel room, and living in that heat for several days without reprieve.
In England alone, 2,000 people every year already die from heat related illnesses. While traditionally warmer climes have adapted over time to soaring summer temperatures, the UK is not prepared to handle these kinds of heatwaves.
The highest temperature ever recorded in the UK was broken on July 25 2019, when the mercury hit 38.7°C in Cambridge. That same summer, temperatures in France soared to 46°C and claimed 1,500 lives. Although devastating, this was nothing compared to the 15,000 victims who succumbed during France’s August 2003 heatwave.
…Read more: https://theconversation.com/climate-change-40-c-summer-temperatures-could-be-common-in-uk-by-2100-141479
The MET study is available here.
According to The Conversation author Lisa Baldini, the UK is not prepared to handle these kinds of heatwaves.
But even if global warming occurs as predicted, its not like 40C British heatwaves will become a common occurrence starting tomorrow. We’re talking about a gradual change. By the end of 80 years of slowly rising temperatures (or falling temperatures or whatever) UK people would be well and truly adapted to whatever climate they experience by the end of the century, just as British colonists in Australia quickly adapted to our much warmer climate.
The death of 1500 people in the 2019 heatwave, or the 15,000 who died in 2003, is a tragedy. But according to the UK Government, there were 49,410 excess deaths in the winter of 2017-18, and 23,200 deaths in the 2018-19 winter. Milder winters would likely reduce overall excess mortality. A few heatwaves seems a small price to pay, to reduce that dreadful winter excess mortality rate.