In July, the Earth reached its highest average temperature in recorded history. Some experts have gone even further to argue that the globe is hotter than at any other point in the last 125,000 years.
This is a trend we’ve seen reflected on a local level, with the Met Office reporting that 2022 was a record-breaking year for the UK climate. During last year’s heatwave, temperatures in our country reached 40.3C for the first time ever.
The effects of this warming can be seen everywhere, most recently in the form of devastating wildfires across southern Europe and northern Africa.
As destruction of nature, property and infrastructure continues, thousands of people have been evacuated and the fatalities are mounting. Closer to home, England saw a quadrupling of wildfires over summer 2022, whilst a blaze in the Scottish Highlands narrowly avoided becoming the largest in UK history.
Such events are only the latest in a growing list, caused by the lack of urgent action to tackle the climate emergency. 2022 alone saw the worst flooding in Pakistan’s history, megadrought in the Horn of Africa, and the devastating impact of Hurricane Ian in the Caribbean and southern U.S.
Alongside these record highs are equally alarming record lows. In February 2023, there was less floating sea ice around Antarctica than ever before. Less ice means that less of the sun’s energy is reflected into space, causing global temperatures to rise even further. This means predictions for sea level rise could be worse than previously expected.
Increasingly severe weather events are linked to rising global temperatures. The greenhouse gasses we emit collect in the Earth’s atmosphere, where they prevent the sun’s energy from escaping into space.
As a result, the global temperature rises. This heating increases the frequency and severity of extreme weather events like flooding, super-storms and wildfires.
The dangers of exceeding 1.5C of global warming were reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change back in 2018. Current data shows that the average global temperature was around 1.2C in 2022.
As Dr Matthew Jones, a climate scientist at the University of East Anglia, confirmed to the BBC:
“Heatwaves and droughts are exacerbated by climate change and are absolutely the defining factor in years with massive wildfire outbreaks.”
The current wildfires, floods, and diminishing sea ice should act as a stark reminder of why meeting net zero targets is so important. However, as its own latest report shows, the Scottish Government is currently failing to meet its emission reduction targets.
Changeworks’ Chief Executive, Josiah Lockhart, said:
“Part of the tragedy of severe weather events is that, unless we act, this kind of devastation is going to become the new norm. However, if climate action is scaled up so that it’s proportionate to the crisis – if we can decarbonise our society both quickly and equitably – then we can limit these types of crises in the future.”
Decarbonisation is already underway, though not at the necessary pace. Through renewable technology such as heat pumps and solar panels, Scotland is reducing its reliance on fossil fuels. Changeworks is heavily involved with this process, from our delivery of Energy Efficient Scotland: Area Based Schemes to the launch of our new retrofit service.
As Josiah Lockhart said,
“The solutions are already out there and are being put in place. What we need is more urgent action from the government to support the good work that’s underway. As the fires across Europe show, the planet won’t wait for us to play catch-up.”