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Heat waves will continue for another 40 years

Heat waves will continue for another 40 years

The heat wave and fires that cross Europe are in the crosshairs of international meteorological, health and climate organizations. Due to its harshness, extension and duration, this heat wave is being seen as an example and a prelude to what awaits the planet in the coming years due to climate change.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) of the United Nations called a press conference on Tuesday to analyze this episode of extreme temperatures that is leaving thousands dead and hundreds of thousands of hectares burned throughout Europe.

The Secretary General of the WMO, Petteri Taalas, warned that heat waves like the one we are experiencing will become more frequent and more intense until at least 2060 . “These kinds of heat waves will be normal or even stronger. The greater frequency of these trends will continue at least until 2060, regardless of the success or not in mitigating climate change “, stressed the expert, who due to the heat that is also suffered in Geneva, with temperatures around 37 degrees , dispensed with the jacket typical of these events and gave the press conference in a short-sleeved shirt.

The head of the WMO said that he hopes the current heat wave will serve as a “wake-up call” to a world that is not always fully aware of the fight against climate change, although he acknowledged that social concern is greater than decades ago.

Taalas warned of the effects of these extreme weather events not only on the population’s health but also on critical economic sectors such as agriculture or tourism. “It will not be very comfortable to travel to countries like Spain, Portugal, Italy or Greece if temperatures are above 40 degrees,” he assured.

On the part of the WHO, the director of Health and Environment of the organism, the Spanish María Neira, intervened in the press conference and pointed out that the current heat wave can have serious consequences on vulnerable groups such as the elderly, children or pregnant women.

“Our body’s ability to regulate internal temperature is compromised, and this can result in a cascade of diseases,” warned Neira.

The Spanish expert also highlighted among the most vulnerable those who suffer from chronic illnesses and workers abroad, “sometimes forced to work at high temperatures without the proper equipment.” Neira insisted on the recommendations that many experts have launched these days to better cope with the days of high temperatures: stay in cool environments as much as possible, reduce intense physical activity, hydrate, wear appropriate clothing or not consume alcohol.

Although in the long term, according to the expert, the best solution to “survive” these extreme weather events is “to be ambitious when it comes to attacking the causes of global warming, of which we have been warned for a long time.”

“Record heat waves are becoming more frequent due to climate change,” Taalas said, comparing global warming to an athlete using performance-enhancing substances.

“When athletes use such substances, the intensity of their performance increases. Similarly, we have been doping our atmosphere by injecting more and more greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere,” Taalas said.

In addition to human health, the WMO chief warned that the heatwaves will also have a negative impact on agriculture, exacerbating the already huge crop loss due to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

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He said intense heat waves could become annual occurrences for decades to come and the negative impacts of climate change will continue into at least the 2060s “regardless of our success in climate mitigation.”

Authorities in Hungary issued a level 3 heat alert on Tuesday as the country is hit by a heat wave that has brought scorching temperatures to Western Europe.

The alert is expected to remain in effect until at least midnight on Saturday. This is Hungary’s second level 3 heat alert this summer. The previous one was broadcast on June 27 and lasted three days.

In Hungary, the National Center for Public Health (NNK) issues a level 3 (maximum) heat alert when the average daily temperature exceeds 27 degrees Celsius for at least three consecutive days.

This summer has been unusually hot and dry in Hungary. Drought has damaged crops, wheat must be harvested early, and cornfields struggle to thrive without water.

The harvest is still going on in the country, but according to the latest estimates by the Hungarian Chamber of Agriculture, the yield may be more than 20 per cent lower than the normal production of five million tons of wheat and between 6.5 and 8 million tons of corn.

Daytime high temperatures in Hungary are expected to peak around 40 degrees Celsius on Thursday.

The heat wave also swept across the Netherlands on Tuesday, one of the hottest days since Dutch measurements began in 1901.

On May 15, following a heat wave that started in late April, India’s Meteorological Department said multiple observing stations reported temperatures of 45 to 50 degrees Celsius.

The Pakistan Meteorological Department said daytime temperatures were five to eight degrees above normal in large parts of the country and sometimes reached 50 degrees Celsius, affecting water supplies, agriculture and human and animal health.

In its mountainous regions of Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkwa, the unusual heat increased snow and ice melt, and triggered at least one glacial lake outburst flood.

The WMO said last month’s global weather produced the third-warmest June ever recorded.

In Tunisia, in North Africa, the temperature in the capital reached a record 48 degrees Celsius and in the interior it equalled last year’s mark of 50.3 degrees.

In Iran, temperatures exceeded 46 degrees Celsius, in China the demand for electricity for air conditioning increased, and in Tokyo, for five days in a row, there were records of more than 35 degrees.

Heat waves are also recorded in the United States and the city of Houston, in the southern state of Texas, reported the hottest June ever experienced.

The WMO has exposed that extreme heat events occur within the natural variation due to changes in global weather patterns. But the increase in its frequency, duration and intensity in recent decades is clearly related to global warming attributable to human activity.

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